This weekend is a time of great joy for us as a Parish. Tomorrow we celebrate our Parish Feast Day for the 144th time. Tonight we celebrate the new life of Baptism for one of our little ones. Both of those are indeed moments of absolute joy.
But as we gather, we know so very well that there is something else out there. Something that is the absolute antithesis of joy, something that is so dark and so wretched and so indescribably horrendous that no words can begin to express it.
Since the release of the grand jury report on Tuesday, my mind has been spinning uncontrollably, and I know that yours have as well. I struggle, as I think we all do, to find the words to adequately express my thoughts and feelings at the moment – nothing seems to be able to capture it. What are we supposed to do with all of this; what are we supposed to think; how are we supposed to process it; how in the heck are we supposed to even pray or have faith. And I don't know what the answer is.
Decades of sickness. Decades of suffering. Decades of sin. It shows to us the reality of evil in our midst.
And it’s all just so big, so incomprehensible, so vicious that I honestly can’t wrap my head around it – and I find myself getting lost in it all. I find myself being filled with an all consuming anger, with righteous sadness, with trying to come up with solutions in an attempt to numb the pain and make myself feel better, with wondering if this is just the time to say ‘that’s all folks’ and walk away.
And after all of that I am still left facing the reality of it all, and asking myself the question, what am I supposed to do with this? But the more I reflect on it, the more I pray about it, the more I struggle with it and cry about it and throw up.... the more the answer is what the answer always is. Matt, you need to cling to Jesus.
And what is it that Jesus calls us to in this? He calls us to holiness. You and me, our bishops, our priests, all the people of God, Jesus calls all of us to holiness.
We gotta bring the circle in, we all do – to bring all of this down to something we can do – something more than just living in outrage. We have to try to allow Jesus to speak to each of us in this – to what Jesus calls you and me to as individuals – we can’t control all the hurtedness, but we can control our response to it, an ever greater holiness. Through prayer. Through penance. Through selfless abandonment to the will of god in my everyday moments especially when I find the devil knocking on my door. To choose Jesus – daily, in every moment of my life, that is what you and I are called to.
Sin is real. Sin is so real. Evil is so real. The devil knows us all so very well. And we need to cling to Jesus. How is Jesus calling me to grow in holiness? How is He calling me to a radical and unconditional surrender to Him in the everyday moments of my life?
That is the spiritual martyrdom that you and I are called to. It’s not the same as Bartholomew’s – in fact I think it’s far more difficult than his – because our martyrdom is something we have to live out everyday – to allow Jesus to increase, to turn to Him in our sorrow, to allow Him and Him alone to direct our thoughts, our words, our actions. Allowing our justified rage to take over is easy – allowing Jesus to take over our lives, that is nothing less than a journey to Calvary – and it’s a journey we all walk together.
There is hope and healing in this – but it is only found in Jesus. There is light through this darkness – but it is only found in Jesus. He alone is our Joy. His grace will get us through.
Cling to Jesus. Lift up the Victims to Jesus. Lift up the Church to Jesus. Cling to Jesus. And together, let us become the holy people he calls us to be – let us walk together with Jesus, even when our journey means walking through the fires of hell. God help us all. +