Saturday, August 18, 2018

On the Crisis of Manhood in the Church; 20th OT Cycle B

    I was going to preach a homily about  how Jesus is the bread of life who comes down from heaven, but then on Wednesday, while I was on vacation, I started to see the news of the Harrisburg Diocese Grand Jury report. I have to confess that it pained me deeply that Cardinal Keeler, a man which I admired greatly, the man who ordained me to the diaconate, was in fact a big player in the culture of silence and  abuse that existed in Harrisburg. So I think that this Sunday, we the clergy of the Church can not ignore this devastating report from the pulpit.
   Since Wednesday I have been following the reactions of people in  social media and I have seen the pain, anger, and disappointment Catholics like you here today are feeling.  One of these commentators said something which stuck with me. He said: “It is not a good week to be Catholic”. At least for me, It’s been a brutal week. Just go to Facebook and look at the reactions Archbishop Lori’s statements referring to this report have generated, and you will see what I’m talking about.
    In my mind I am convinced that there is nothing we the preachers in this Sunday can say that will make you, the lay people, regain the trust of the men that are supposed to be our spiritual fathers and the successors of the apostles. So where do we go from here?  Well I feel that the only thing I can do is explore what in my opinion is the cause of why the horror stories in this grand jury report happened.
    I feel that this latest scandal reflects one of the great tragic realities of our times and our church. For decades, our church have been suffering from what I call a "crisis of manhood". The reason why our seminaries are empty is because we have forgotten as a church what the meaning of “being a man” is. The real tragedy is that we have ignored the one great example of manhood in front of our very eyes: Jesus the God man, dead on a cross. And what is this example? To give your life for the ones you love, to sacrifice self for the good of the other and to embrace and console those who suffer. This is what real men do and this is what we as clergy have failed to do.
   I feel that the only hope we have as a Church resides in the lay people. They are the ones who should keep us accountable and they are the ones who, like a mirror, should reflect to us what is lacking in us, where are we falling short from the real image of manhood, Jesus on the Cross. As a church we need to return to this image. This might not happen in one homily, or in a week or a year, it might take a generation or two, but once we return to this example, once we begin to reflect to the world the image of Jesus the Christ, we as a Church will return to be the moral beacon for our culture. We need men lay and clergy to embrace this image of Jesus Crucified for our sins, for the sake of ourselves, our families and our the world. God bless you my brothers and sisters.