Sunday, August 19, 2018

Trust, Listening (2019-08-19, Sunday-20)

19 August  2018   /  20th Sunday Ordinary Time, Year B
•• Proverbs 9:1-6 •• Psalm 34 •• Ephesians 5:15-20  •• + John 6:51-58 

••       Title:   Trust, Listening

[__01__]      Who can be trusted?
(2x) Yesterday, I was at a family funeral for my father’s cousin, Richie.
          Richie was a beloved member of our family, owned a restaurant. He was a person liked by many, known for his sense of humor and trusted by us. He knew how to lighten up a situation.
          I recall meeting Richie on the day after I was ordained a priest, when I celebrated my first Mass of Thanksgiving. Many family and friends were there.  I used to see Richie every summer but I had not seen him for a while. He was my father’s cousin. His nephews are my 2nd cousins. We have to do the whole ANCESTRY.COM genealogy to figure it out.
          So, I saw Richie that day. And, I must admit … there family members whose names I was mixing up, with so many people at once.
          And, he came up to me and said, knowing I might be a bit lost. He came up to me and said, “I’m Richie, I’m the nice one.”
          So, it was a way that he lightened up the situation and built trust.
[__02__]      My cousin told another story about Richie. Richie owned a restaurant called The Manor House in Westchester County, New York.
          The Manor House is like a much miniaturized – smaller version of The Manor in West Orange.  They have weddings, receptions.
          And, Richie knew how to, so to say, schmooze and welcome guests, customers and …. in this case potential/future customers. When my cousin was a junior in high school, and president of his class, he and his committee were shopping around for a location for their junior prom/dance.
          My cousin suggested – and really wanted to go to – The Manor House, Richie’s place, because their high school was in this same vicinity.
          So, my cousin suggested this to the committee …let’s check out The Manor House.
          So, they put Richie and The Manor House on their list and they go over there.       
[__03__]    What my cousin recalled, first of all, about this visit was Richie’s car – his beautiful, black, shiny Jaguar right by the front door.
          Richie had some flash.
          And, Richie then gave his sales pitch, showed my cousin and the committee the place.
          Then, upon returning to high school, they had to make a decision about all the different places they had visited.
          My cousin recalled that he had to RECUSE himself from the deliberations. There is a whole lot of RECUSING going on these days….
          But, one of his classmates – on her own – was quite insistent that she liked The Manor House.
          So … in this case, Richie – objectively on his own – won their trust. They trusted him, they had a good experience.
          He took these young people under his wing. They trusted him. He took care of them.
          That’s how it should be. Not everything is always how it should be.
          Who can be trusted?
[__04__]    Many of our parishioners have heard of the recent findings of the Pennsylvania Grand Jury regarding the abuse of children by members of the clergy and, sometimes, the cover-up by their superiors.
          This can be earth-shaking and faith-shaking.
          Consider Jesus’ caution about trust:
[But] he that shall scandalize one of these little ones that believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone should be hanged about his neck, and that he should be drowned in the depth of the sea.  (Matthew 18:6)
          Children trust us.
[__05 __]      Our children are given to us to love, protect and guide to adulthood from a safe and secure place in childhood. When a priest, who we expect to protect and love our children with the love of Christ acts otherwise, “he has betrayed the grace of his ordination”  in the words of St. John Paul II. 
And, the damage done to children, young people and their loved ones/families is immense.
It can take years to measure and heal, to bring the incident to consciousness, to LISTEN.    
My thoughts and prayers go out to all who have been affected by such reprehensible behavior.
As your pastor, I am also horrified and troubled to think of little ones deeply scarred by priests they trusted.
An institution’s public persona is never more important than the vulnerable persons within à who are more vulnerable than our children?
          I wanted to share my thoughts and let you know that I am here for you. Your faith and devotion are inspiring to me.
          Let us never fear the truth – either when are called to speak the truth or to hear/listen to the truth.
          This truth sets us free, to act for Jesus Christ and with the Holy Spirit, according to his guidance.
          And, He always guides in the ways of love, especially on behalf of those we are called to love and protect. And to remember they depend on us to do so.
          Listen to them.

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