September 16, 2018

September 16, 2018

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MCGUIRE-Brendan_webBy Fr. Brendan McGuire
Pastor of Holy Spirit Parish, San Jose and Vicar General for special projects, Diocese of San Jose. Email him at bmcguire@dsj.org.

 

Enough. We Need Accountability

“Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood, will remain in me and I will remain in them.”

Jesus says some things that are really hard to hear. This sounds like cannibalism! Immediately after having just heard it even the Jews started to argue: “What is he talking about? He gives us his flesh? What does that mean?” Those who were listening to him were trying to understand this incredibly difficult teaching. The truth is sometimes very hard to understand. In fact, we will hear later on that many will walk away from him after hearing this Bread of Life Discourse. It is just too much to bear.

John the Evangelist, the author of this gospel, has Jesus not answer the question. Jesus simply explains the truth within: “You must remain in me.” Basically, he says we do not understand it, but “remain in me; stay with me; consume me; and I will be in you.” He refers back to his relationship with his Father and then later he will say “I am the Way, the Truth, the Life.” “Remain in me and you will have eternal life.”

It is very hard to hear but the Truth sets us free. Jesus says to follow him, to stay with him. This is a reminder of earlier in the gospel where we hear him say, “I am the vine and you are the branches.” He asks us to remain in him like a branch on the vine. Stay with me at all times. In fact, he uses the word, “remain” no less that 14 times. We are to remain in Him because he is the Truth.

There are other things that we hear in our everyday life that are also hard to hear. The last few weeks has been hard for us a Church locally, nationally, and internationally. When I read that report from the Attorney General about the Church of Pennsylvania and how a thousand children were abused at the hands of 300 priests over a period of 70 years, my heart sank. I was not just shocked and dismayed, I was absolutely appalled and disgusted that such behavior could happen inside our Church. Inside the place we consider holy!! By priests who claim to be holy and bishops who claim to lead us. I was devastated as one of the cloth, as a leader of this Church. It is devastating! Absolutely devastating to read that! I wonder how much more exists across the nation. This is just one state. What about the other 49 states? How many other bishops have said and done nothing to protect our children? At what point do we say, “Enough! It’s enough! Please have the courage to speak and not allow this to continue.”

These are our children! How could we not protect our children? I don’t understand it. My heart is broken by it and I am one of “the Church.” I know you share my disgust and heartbreak. I know that many of you are embarrassed by the leaders of our Church and rightly so. They have let us down terribly. It is easy to be outraged, hurt and disgusted but we must work with the victims. We must stand with the victims. We must acknowledge their pain and their suffering at whatever cost to our Church. We must advocate for the victims who need to have justice; to finally have their voice heard. We must disclose the whole truth and let it all out. Let’s stop hiding in secret vaults, the terrible past. The truth will set us free. If we lose many of our properties; so be it! I don’t care if we have to worship in the parking lot. We must stand with the victims whose lives have been destroyed by this. These actions are morally reprehensible and criminal. The ignorance and unwillingness of the bishops to lead us is a collective disgrace and they need to be held accountable for their actions or lack of actions. If that means every US bishop has to resign like the bishops of Chile then so be it: we need accountability!

It is our Church, my friends. We can no longer remain silent whether it be in Pennsylvania or in California. We must stand with Jesus in the truth for our victims; for those children whose lives will never been the same again and whose parents tried to fight for them and got nowhere. They were ignored and silenced!

I know it is upsetting for us as Church but it is devastating for the children and for their lives and for their parents. We must stand with them because that I believe is what Jesus would do. He would stand in the truth. He would not take any other path but to stand with those who have been violated. And so must we!

I do not know what is going to happen next. I know it will not stop, and it should not stop, until the truth is completely known for all to hear. That will be the only thing that will set us free. I know many of you are hurt by what has happened but our hurt pales in comparison to the victims and we must remember that. We must stand for our Church, and with our Church, but for the victims; for those who have been hurt and broken. Only then, I believe will the Church regrow back; and only then can we honestly say that we have stood with Christ as Christ is always for the broken and the wounded.

Today, we stand only consoled by Christ who is the truth because he will give us eternal life if we believe in him and stand with him in the truth.

“Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood, will remain in me and I will remain in them.”

(Editor’s note: Father McGuire delivered this homily to the Holy Spirit Parish congregation on August 26. TVC felt it was worth reprinting)