TO WHOM SHALL WE GO?
Homily for the 21ST Sunday of Ordinary Time
August 26, 2018
Father Joe Cisetti
This past week I was having dinner with my brother and sister-in-law. While we were talking about what the bishop mentioned in his letter, my sister-in-law, who is a lifelong, practicing Catholic said, I’m sorry but sometimes I’m embarrassed to be Catholic. I told her that’s understandable. Right now, some people are embarrassed to be Catholic, some people may be ashamed, some people may feel humiliated, sad or even sick and some people are angry. And I have experienced a number of those feelings. These are all understandable, normal and probably healthy reactions.
But this is not the time for good people to leave the Church. We need all the good people we can get. This is a time for good people to more and more become part of the Church. It’s so important now that we have good people in our parishes, in our leadership, in our offices, in our seminaries and in our religious houses. We need more than just good people, we need saints and it’s the vocation of each one of us to become a saint.
There’s an anger that propels us to say and do things that we regret, an anger that leads us to sin. But there’s can also an anger that prompts us to make a difference and to do good and work for justice. And our embarrassment, our shame, our humiliation, sadness even our feeling sick can cause us to isolate ourselves. But these can also prompt us to do good. God can draw life out of death and good out evil...even this evil.
St. Paul says, If one part suffers, all parts suffer with it. For all those painful feelings you have had to suffer within yourself because of this, for cruel comments others may have said or will say to you for being Catholic, and for anything else related to all this, as a representative of the Church, I apologize. I ask for God’s forgiveness and I ask for your forgiveness, for something you did not cause and that you do not deserve.
Over the years I have seen much progress regarding all this and the progress continues. Here at St. Therese we work hard here to maintain a safe environment for everyone and we continue to do that work. In my bulletin column this week I outline much of what we do. Please take the time to read it.
Do you also want to leave? Peter said to Jesus, Master to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Peter continued to follow Jesus even though he didn’t understand everything and even though he would stumble along the way.
This speaks to us of perseverance. Now perseverance means literally to serve through; to serve through the good times, to serve through the bad times. Peter showed perseverance and our embarrassment, shame, humiliation, feeling sick and even our anger can serve to weaken or strengthen our perseverance. Despite this, I think my sister-in-law will continue to practice the faith.
Like many of you, I feel betrayed but I have hope. I have hope because of the progress I have seen and because I believe we will continue to see progress. I have hope because of our Office of Child and Youth Protection. I have hope because there are so many good people in our church and I hope because Jesus has risen from the dead and despair is a luxury not given to Christians.
Thirty-three years ago this week I left early on a Monday morning to go to the seminary. The Saturday afternoon before I went to confession at my home parish of St. Thomas More. My penance was to read and reflect on the words of the Sunday Gospel which was the gospel we heard today and since then this gospel has been special one to me because of where I was at my life then. Thirty-three years ago I never thought I would be standing up in front of my parishioners talking about this. Would I do it all over again?...Yes. Yes, I would.
With Peter, may we say, To whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Now especially, we need good people in our Church. We need you.