Sadly there continues to be so much hostility, anger and hatred towards President Trump and his administration nearly a year after the election. Some continue to try to do anything they can to undermine the work of the government and seek ways to challenge the legitimacy of his administration. Democracy rests on the voice of the people; the people voted in November and elected President Trump to the highest office in our land. Despite cries of the Russians meddling in the election, or then FBI director Comey’s surprise announcement, or any other number of excuses being put forward, the will of the people has been expressed and verified. Regardless of whether you like him or not, President Trump is the legitimate President of the United States of America. That some of our legislators continue to reject this fact with such vitriol and hatred is a scandal. We need to get over politics as usual – the bickering, partisanship, division and real hostility. The members of Congress have been elected to do the job of governing; they are responsible for working with our duly elected leaders for the good of the people. Yes there will always be different values and priorities for our political parties, even a different vision of life between people in our country. But there is a great deal at stake when we consider what is facing our country: a health care system that is failing, infrastructure that needs serious attention, tax reform codes that have to be changed to benefit every day Americans and the business community in our country, judges that need to be appointed, and the list goes on. For Catholics we have grave concerns about the issues related to the protection needed for the unborn and the sanctity of every human life, the protection to practice our religious beliefs without penalty and persecution, the protection of the nature of marriage as God designed it to be, and the care we must give to the poor and marginalized. I for one applaud the appointment of the Supreme Court justice Neil Gorsuch – one of President Trump’s campaign promises that I believe was the reason he captured the majority of the Catholic vote in this election. We need to move behind partisan politics as usual and demand that our elected officials do the work for which they have been elected: governance of our country for the common good. We need to return to true statesmanship in our country, where opposing parties can work together and find ways to address problems positively and effectively. We do not need politics as usual. Whether someone likes him or not is mute; he is our duly elected President. How much easier it is to pass the back, to point fingers, to jockey for position and blame the other side for all the problems and issues facing our country. Sadly it seems that many members of the Congress simply have chosen to be obstructionists and not legislators. Isn’t it about time that those we have entrusted to leadership begun to act like true leaders? If they can’t then its time for a change for a number of the members of Congress.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to all those who are victims of Hurricane Maria and the earthquake in Mexico. We stand in prayerful solidarity with those who have died and their families, and with so many who have lost homes and whose lives have been forever changed by these natural disasters. In a special way the people of Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands, and the people of the Mexico City and surrounding regions, are in our hearts as they face tremendous suffering in the wake of the hurricane and earthquake. May God draw close to all those in need; may you find peace and strength in God’s love; and may hope fill your hearts with the compassionate outreach of so many good people who want to help. Please consider making donations to the American Red Cross, the Catholic Charities USA, and to other relief agencies. We pray for the safety of the first responders, the police and firefighters, the national guard and other military personnel, and so many good citizens who are working at those sites to provide support and assistance. May God be with you.
This date, 9-11, carries a heavy burden of memory. This day does not pass in the calendar without our remembering. We remember images of death and destruction. Images that human eyes were never meant to see. We remember words our ears were never meant to hear, the tender last words of husbands and wives who would never embrace again. We imagine the feeling of emptiness in the arms of children who at the end of the day could not find mom or dad for their welcome home hug. We remember our own feelings of emptiness as our sense of security, as our own confidence in the predictable order of life and work was radically shaken. We remember the heroism of the many that lost their lives in saving others. We remember all those who suffered and died, we grieve for them still, friends and strangers alike, along with their families and friends. And it is right that it should not pass from our memory. But today and in this prayer, along with our remembrance of profound loss, it also seems right that we give voice to our deep longing for peace, and with this prayer, commit ourselves to those actions that will draw us closer to our most ancient and most holy desire, peace among all God’s children. Lord, grant us peace. Amen.
If Jesus has been clear about anything in his teaching, it is the call to love, to forgiveness, to mercy and to compassion. The Church’s foundational belief in the unconditional mercy of God has been the consistent theme of our Holy Father, Pope Francis, as well. “It is not easy to entrust oneself to God’s mercy, because it is an abyss beyond our comprehension. But we must! … “Oh, I am a great sinner!” All the better! Go to Jesus: He likes you to tell him these things!” He forgets; He has a very special capacity for forgetting. He forgets, He kisses you, He embraces you and He simply says to you: “Neither do I condemn you; go, and sin no more “
It is this gift of love and mercy showered upon us by our Heavenly Father that not only frees us from our sin and restores us to a life of grace, but it is the reason we must be the same with others. In our second reading, Saint Paul makes it clear that “the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.” This is part of the great and most important commandment of the law: We can only love God to the degree that we are able to love our neighbor. This is no easy sentiment or fleeting emotion but the greatest virtue of all. “Love does no evil to the neighbor.” Saint Paul has spoken about this call to love in concrete terms that leaves no doubt as to what is expected of us. Love is kind; it is patient; it bears all things and forgives all things; it is never boastful or proud or self-seeking. Love requires of every Christian the ability to put the other’s interests above our own. Even Jesus reminded his disciples: What good is there in loving those who love you, even the pagans do that! We are called to love our enemies, those who are difficult and unkind and mean spirited and ungrateful.
Jesus challenges us to work at healing divisions. “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone.” This is the work of every Christian. It is our responsibility in faith to speak with love, to seek reconciliation, to heal what is broken, to shower another with mercy and tenderness so that the human heart can receive tenderness and the bonds of love among us can be restored. But so often our response is to get angry, to speak badly of another, to desire harm, to seek to get even, to push another aside in disdain. These are contradictions to those who want to live as Christians. Even when our best efforts fail, Jesus says that we must pray with a desire that God’s power and grace will accomplish what we unable to do. “If two of you agree on earth about anything for which they are to pray, it shall be granted to them by my Heavenly Father.” The mercy and love of God given to us in Jesus Christ is the gift that we must seek not only for ourselves but for all our brothers and sisters, especially those with whom we struggle.
We stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in the Caribbean and south Florida as they face the threat of Hurricane Irma. We are keeping them in our prayers that God will keep them safe. We pray for all those who are working so hard to offer assistance – our police, national guard, firefighters, Emts, rescue workers and so many helping their neighbor. May God bless them. Let us keep everyone in prayer.
Saint Paul Cathedral is known for its majestic building. The beautiful and awesome Gothic architecture; the colorful and detailed stained glass windows, the stunning statues, crucifix and stations of the cross, the marble altars and reliefs, and the list goes on and on. Many who come to us are overwhelmed by the beauty of what they see and behold. But the true beauty of our parish family was on display this past Sunday (August 27) in all its glory. We celebrated our fourth annual parish picnic. Nearly 400 people gathered on the lawn of the Cathedral on a picture perfect day. Our parish family is diverse: old and young, many families with children, persons with disabilities, white, black, Asian, Latino, people of every ethnic origin and nationality, young adults and the elderly, single and married, even some in consecrated life. The differences are stunning to behold but the unity that joins us together is awe-inspiring. The Cathedral parish is joined together as one faith family marked by an incredible spirit of welcome and hospitality, full of people who generously give of their time, talent and treasure for the good of others and the glory of God. What stood our so boldy that day for me was the real, authentic spirit of joy that was so evident that it outshined the external beauty of the Cathedral standing behind us. We have smiles everywhere, children running around joyfully, conversations and friendships that were genuine and inspiring, and all kinds of people caring for others, true servants after the heart of Jesus himself. That is the true beauty of Saint Paul Cathedral parish – the people who bring our parish family to live. There are so many and all of us work together in building up the unity of the Body of Christ. What joins us as one is our genuine love of God, our faith in Jesus Christ, our love for the Church and the sacramental life that gives us strength, and a sincere commitment to bring that faith into the public square and share our joy with others. As the pastor and rector of Saint Paul Cathedral parish now for the past five years, I was filled with the greatest pride as I walked the picnic grounds last Sunday. I keep thinking this is what being a parish family is all about! What a beautiful sight to behold indeed.
Our hearts and thoughts are closely joined to our brothers and sisters in the path of the devastation of Hurricane Harvey. As the hurricane hit first at the beautiful town of Corpus Christi it seemed like a call from God to stir us into action. Corpus Christi is the Latin for “Body of Christ.” As Saint Paul wrote many years ago, “when one of the members of the body suffers, all the members suffer.” In this terrible tragedy where so many have lost their homes and all they possess, when some have died and others are injured, the hearts of all the members of the Body of Christ share in the pain of their loss. But as Christians we are stirred to action. Tragedy brings out the best in others; it always does. We have seen the bravery of our police officers, firefighters, those on search and rescue patrols, emergency medical personnel, national guard, those serving in our shelters, the Red Cross, and so many other regular people who are doing all they can to help. It speaks to the goodness that lies in every human heart; the care and compassion that we have for our neighbors, especially those in need. In a country where politics has caused such sad divisions, where some people choose to tear down the fabric of our society by their hatred for others, by violence and destruction of property, how important to see manifested in these days such beauty, goodness and kindness. No one cares if you are a Democrat or Republican, no one is asking whether you are an illegal immigrant – what matters is that each person is seen as a beloved child of God; every life is sacred and precious; and those who are working to help their neighbors in need care little for differences. Every human life matters. We are all Americans who suddenly are confronting the fragility of human life and the most precious blessings that we have: our blessed nation and the freedom we possess as Americans; the cherished gifts of family and friends, the beauty of the gift of life, the faith in God that gives us strength and peace, and the reality of God’s love that surrounds at every moment of life in good times and in bad. Nothing else matters in the end. May we learn to treasure the priorities in life and not wait for another tragedy to strike to build up the bonds of unity and love with everyone in our country – brothers and sisters all in Jesus Christ – members of the Body of Christ (Corpus Christi). God bless those confronting this hurricane; God keep them safe and bring them through harm’s way; God fill them with hope for the future and give them strength.