- The Abbey of the Genesee - https://www.geneseeabbey.org -

October 11, 2018

Fr. Jerome Machar, OCSO

27th Thursday in Ordinary Time
Galatians 3:1-5; Luke 11:5-13

Having heard the reading from the Letter to the Church in Galatia, I suggest we examine the depth of our belief in the doctrine of the Cross and of the Real Presence in the Blessed Sacrament. Every time we pray, we make the sign of the Cross. Is this a mere formality or is it an act of faith? Every morning we participate in the Eucharist. Is this a time of communion with the Living Lord or merely an empty ritual? Like the Galatians, we have had the doctrine of the Cross presented to us and the Lord’s Supper celebrated in our midst. At this time, when the Body of Christ is lacerated by the sin and scandal of the clergy, it is important for all of us to look beyond the minister and peer into the mystery that is presented to us. We need to witness to the essence of the Church, that is, to the essence of Christ in his teachings and his mind.

The anger, disgust and outrage triggered by the scandal is understandable. However, it troubles me that people have opted to abandon the Cross of Christ, and to excuse themselves from participating the Body of Christ. In light of this, Pope Francis has suggested that we are engaged in spiritual warfare. Satan and his minions is seeking to destroy the Church by causing people to abandon the faith. In acknowledging this reality, we need to ponder Jesus’ words: “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart. I have overcome the world” (Jn. 16:33). We need to hold firm to the cross, which is our banner of victory over the snares of the devil. We need to partake of the Bread of Life which is our food for the battle. By doing this, we will see things as the Lord sees them, be where the Lord wants us to be, and to experience true conversion of heart.

Confronting the scandal of the church, gives a new spin to the words of Jesus: “I have not come to call righteous but sinners to repentance” (Lk. 5:32). It is essential that we, as a Church, be able to acknowledge and condemn, with sorrow and shame, the atrocities perpetrated by consecrated persons, clerics, and all those entrusted with the mission of watching over and caring for the most vulnerable. Realizing that some people who are outrages by the behavior of the clergy and are disgusted with the hierarchy are walking away from the Church, and God, I would like to take another comment of Jesus out of its original context. “Do you want to leave too?” (Jn. 6:67)

Standing in the shadow of the cross, where are we to go? Will we cling to the cross because it is the cause of our hope? The author of the Letter to the Hebrews wrote: “This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary” (Heb. 6:19). If we cling to this anchor, we can “put out into the depths of our distress” (CF. Lk. 5:4) confident that Christ is with us. After all, He is the one who said: “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words will never pass away” (Lk. 21:33). We cling to the Cross and hold firm to the Body of Christ because He is the Living Word and the Bread of Life, holding firm to Christ’s promise to be with us always, even to the end of time (CF. Mat. 28:20).