BY FR. BRIAN ZUMBRUM, OSFS
20th Sunday in Ordinary Time | August 19, 2018
As many of you are aware, last week we were reminded once again of our Church’s deepest failings as the Grand Jury Report was published in the state of Pennsylvania.
And I must admit, this report was particularly difficult for me.
For the man who was my inspiration for entering the priesthood.
The man who showed me how a minister of our faith could love unconditionally was accused.
The swirl of conflicting emotions has been overwhelming. Confusion over whether or not this accusation was true. Anger. Disbelief. Grief.
But the one heart wrenching truth that I kept wrestling with is that this man that I loved and who loved me in return may have committed unspeakable harm to another child of God.
What do I do with that?
What do we do with the evil that exists with our very selves and the ones we love?
What do we do with the evil that flourishes in our country and in our Church?
The litany is almost beyond what one can bear.
Abuse and deceit
Arrogance and abuse of power
Shameless protection of one’s own status and institution at the expense of the most vulnerable
Violence and torture
Often in the name of God. Blasphemy of the highest order.
What do we do with this?
I know what I want to do. I want to say I’m done. To walk away. Away from the confusion and the mess. The pain and the evil.
Because I’m tired.
And I’m only one person. One person standing in front of a darkness that seems so vast and impenetrable
And I don’t think I’m alone. I scroll through my Facebook posts and see one anguished post after another. Questioning why they stay. Explaining why they’ve thrown in the towel. Explaining why they’re done.
It was with this heavy heart that I sat down to reflect on the readings for this weekend.
And I could not help but resonate with the second reading and its blunt reminder that these days are evil.
But then I got to the Gospel and I was suddenly reminded of a truth that had eluded me in these dark days.
Which is that Christ offered his flesh to us.
Flesh that would be battered and bruised. Flesh that was not perfect.
For it was flesh that was permanently scarred by the forces of evil that would nail him to a cross and pierce his very side.
And yet, it was still this flesh that he offered for the sake of us, his children.
Because Christ did not walk away from us. His beloved sisters and brothers. He chose to become one with us, knowing what that would mean. The cross.
Trusting in the God in whose image he was made. Trusting that God would remain faithful, even in his darkest hour.
And therefore, he was unafraid to stand before the darkness, to stare evil in the face. And then to empty it of its power by a radical act of love and forgiveness.
And in so doing, he left us, his disciples, with a course to follow.
When we gather around this table, we are invited to partake once again in his body and blood, broken and shared for us. And in so doing, we too are invited to share in all of our humanity, its goodness and its brokenness, its tremendous capacity for evil and its endless potential for redemption.
We too are invited to stand before the darkness, to stare evil in the face. And then we too are called to empty it of its power with our own radical acts of love and forgiveness.
To extend compassion to each and every member of the Body of Christ who has been bruised and broken by one of our own.
To fight for justice for those without a voice. To be their rock and their shield in their moments of vulnerability. To speak the word of truth to those in the halls of power and demand they be held accountable for their actions, regardless of whether those halls be found in bishop’s offices, governor’s mansion or Fortune 500 boardrooms.
And to maintain hope. That our God is still with His people. That our God is still faithful.
We may be standing before the darkness my friends. But the sun shall rise again.
Let us be found waiting for the dawn, with hearts ready to love and forgive again.
May God be Praised.