Sr. Phyllis Jaszkowiak
October 21, 2018
The Gospel, today has three important lessons for us. The first is that if we really follow Jesus we will drink the cup he drinks and be baptized with his baptism. The second is that we are to be humble, be the servant of all, in how we follow Jesus, especially if we are in a position of leadership. The third is that Jesus chose human beings with strengths and weaknesses to follow him. It is the same today.
We sometimes forget, that as an institution, the Church always needs to be reformed. When the Church forgets that Jesus is the leader, then we, like James and John, work to be the ‘first of all’.
I was at a service on the feast of St. Francis of Assisi and what struck me was the words Francis heard God say to him, “Repair my Church, as you can see it is in ruins.” Today our Church is broken, our Country is broken.
We are called to repair our Church, repair our Country, to work together to make change happen. The divisiveness and polarization we feel in our Church and Country cannot be healed by more of the same. We can only change if we have the strength and the courage to talk with people who differ with us, and to stand up in a way that is appropriate for each of us when we see injustice in our midst
At the last GIFT Sunday we became acquainted with 19 people who stood for peace, justice, compassion. They followed Christ, not institutions. They had to drink of the cup and receive the baptism of Jesus. They did not succumb to the temptation of power, but acted for change. They acted – so must we.
This kind of work will lead to drinking the cup Jesus must drink and be baptized with his baptism – his cross and resurrection. It is not an easy task, and the task must be done.
We are called today to follow Jesus, to repair and build up our Church and Country. Elections are a few weeks away. As you study the people and the issues, look to the values of Jesus for help in voting, talk with others and get their take. And do vote. Remember, as one person said at the GIFT session, “Your voice matters!”
It is the same for our Church. We have to keep talking to each other. Jesus continued to talk to others, right up to the time of his death.
In our Church, we the laity, both women and men, have to act to take our rightful place in all the decision making processes. We cannot leave it only to the Bishops or the clergy, or the staff of our parishes.
This is the cup we, the whole Church, are given to drink today: the sex abuse crises in our Church needs to be talked about in order to be confronted and healed. And we need to listen to each other – victims, perpetrators, those who covered it up, those who did not listen to the victims - both laity and hierarchy. I thank Fr. Schwab for opening the conversation in our parish. Other issues are: how people are chosen for priesthood, their maturity and pastoral sense; questions of transparency and accountability; the place of women and all the laity in Church structures; how Liturgy is to be celebrated; welcoming all people into our Church; questions of power and control and getting rid of clericalism in all its forms.
We probably won’t be warmly welcomed, and we have to stand up for our rightful place. Jesus calls us to do it. Follow him.
So I encourage all women and men to take our place in this broken Church and lead it once again to Christ. To lead from our hearts, to again look to Christ for guidance, not rules and regulations. To know that everyone has some truth and together we come to the whole truth, for that is when change can happen.
I would like to end with a prayer, written by Brian Doyle.
“Furious Prayer for the Church I Love and Have Always Loved but Which Drives Me Insane with Its Fussy Fidgety Prim Tin-Eared Thirst for Control and Rules and Power and Money Rather Than the One Simple Thing the Founder Insisted On
“Granted, it’s a tough assignment, the original assignment. I get that. Love – Lord help us, could we not have been assigned something easier, like astrophysics or quantum mechanics? But no – love those you cannot love. Love those who are poor and broken and fouled and dirty and sick with sores. Love those who wish to strike you on both cheeks. Love the blowhard, the pompous ass, the arrogant liar. Find the Christ in each heart, even those. Preach the Gospel and only if necessary talk about it. Be the Word. It is easy to advise and pronounce and counsel and suggest and lecture; it is not so easy to do what must be done without sometimes shrieking. Bring love like a bright weapon against the dark. The Rabbi did not say to build churches, or retreat houses, or secure a fleet of cars for general use, or convene conferences, or issue position papers. He was pretty blunt about the hungry and the naked and the sick. He was not reasonable; we forget this. The Church is not a reasonable idea. The Church should be a verb. When it is only a noun it is not what the Founder asked of us. Let us pray that we are ever after dissolving the formal officious arrogant thing that wants to rise, and ever fomenting the contradictory revolutionary counter-cultural thing that could change life on this planet. It could you know. Let’s try again today. And so: amen.”
Brian Doyle. A BOOK OF UNCOMMON PRAYER. Sorin Books, P.O. Box 428, Notre Dame, IN, 46556-0428. Published in 2014. Pages 17-18.