Return to Sanity

(April 19, 2019)

Bottom line: To return to sanity we look to the cross, we turn to God.

Last week Benedict XVI, pope emeritus, surprised us by breaking silence and offering his reflections on the clergy abuse scandal. He writes as a man bearing great sorrow but also hope and trust that come from faith in God. It's not easy. We often feel like we're swimming upstream. Or maybe like we felt on Monday watching that fire devastate the Notre Dame Cathedral.

As we saw last night Benedict XVI does not blame the sixties but rather Catholic leaders for our muddled response. To our shame instead of resisting destructive behaviors we went along. Only now do we see the full extent of the damage: broken families, alienation, pornography, depression, drugs, suicide. Ugliest of all: the sexual exploitation of minors by men consecrated to God.

These crimes and cover-ups have brought shame to us all. Parishioners have told me they face scorn and ridicule in their workplace and families. New revelations keep coming out - usually events that happened 40 or 50 years ago. Each one brings new mockery. It's natural to feel anger. It's even understandable that many have turned away from the church. But are those people missing something? Pope Benedict addresses that question. I'll say more on Easter.

On Good Friday we want to face the reality of sin. Sin has fixed Jesus on cross. Last Friday our youth watched The Passion of The Christ. The movie shows Jesus' terrible suffering for us. Our sins may be large or they may be small. Still, each sin, each infidelity brings Jesus suffering.

During the last two weeks we have covered the images in our church. Tonight we will unveil and venerate the cross. The cross reveals the reality of sin. Even the tiniest sin is like a splinter in Jesus' wounded flesh.

The cross exposes sin. It also reveals love. As Benedict says, "God became man for us...He speaks with us, He lives with us, He suffers with us and he took death upon himself for us."

How do we respond to such love? As we saw at yesterday's Mass of the Last Supper, we respond by gratitude and reverence, above all for Jesus' presence in the Eucharist. It's a dynamic presence. The Letter to the Hebrews describes Jesus as our high priest. He takes us to God the Father. In all our brokenness he lifts us to the Father. That's what happens in the Eucharistic Prayer. It isn't just the priest sayings words and making some gestures. It' Jesus lifting us to the Father. Even if you feel distant and distracted, Jesus does his work when we celebrate the Eucharist.

Interesting that today, although we receive Communion, we do not celebrate the Eucharist. Good Friday is part of a three-day event that begins Holy Thursday and culminates with the Easter Vigil. Tonight it's enough to view and venerate the cross.

Pope Benedict writes about how when God is the center of our thoughts, words and actions everything becomes different. That's what we want. You might remember that we began Lent with The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence. Yes, how different our lives become when we place God at the center.

Unfortunately the power of sin dominates our world. We are fighting a spiritual battle. Without God it dominates our lives, makes us blind and deranged. To return to sanity we look to the cross. After the Solemn Intercessions I will unveil the cross. Then we have the opportunity to venerate the cross with a touch or a kiss. Think about what that cross means for Jesus - and for you and me. To begin the public veneration I will sing, "Behold the wood of the cross on which hung the salvation of the world." and you will respond, "Come, let us adore." Amen.


Spanish Version

Homilies for Triduum 2019:

Holy Thursday
Good Friday
Easter Sunday

Divine Mercy Sunday homily: MeToo & Need for Mercy

Audio Homilies for Good Friday:

From Archives (Good Friday Homilies):

2018: What is Truth?
2017: Three Responses to Innocent Suffering
2016: Source of Mercy
2015: The Truth About Everything
2014 : Conformed to the Cross
2013 : The Contrast of Judas and Peter
2012: The Newness of Jesus' Death
2011: Suffering Is Everything
2010: Do Not Waste Your Suffering
2009: He Learned Obedience
2008: According to Your Word
2007: He Took Our Suffering to Himself
2006: The Hour of Divine Mercy
2005: The Conversion of Barabbas
2004: Why Did Jesus Have to Die?
2003: The Host
2002: Testimony of Bishop Dolli
2001: Blood From His Side
2000: Vicarious Suffering
1999: Old Testament Fulfilled
1998: He took our place

Other Homilies

Seapadre Homilies: Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C

Audio Files of Homilies (Simple Catholicism Blog)

Take the Plunge Bible Study (audio resources) *New episodes for Ordinary Time leading up to Lent*

Are these homilies a help to you? Please consider making a donation to St. Mary of the Valley Parish.

Other Priests' Homilies, Well Worth Listening:
Fr. Frank Schuster
Fr. Brad Hagelin
Fr. Jim Northrop
Fr. Michael White
Fr Pat Freitag (and deacons of St. Monica)
Bishop Robert Barron

Bulletin (St. Mary of Valley Parish)

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