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2018 - Archbishop Listecki - Vigil of Reparation Homily

September 15, 2018 - Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki's homily from the Archdiocese of Milwaukee's Vigil of Reparation.

Vigil of Reparation Homily

by Archbishop Jerome Listecki

First of all, thank you to ARISE for sharing this evening of Reparation with us. Thank you for joining us. In knowing that there is in the words of Christ the possibility for healing and reparation.

You should know three things about me as I stand here before you. First and foremost, I am a believer. I believe. I believe in the testimony that Jesus Christ gives us. I believe in the love that he offers us. I am a believer. I believe that there’s not only an aspect of what happens in this world and a responsibility we have, but I believe that there is yet a world to come, and we will be held accountable for our actions in this world. I am a believer.

Second, I love the Church. I love the Church. I am not talking about the brick and mortar that makes up the institutions that surround and dot the planes, but I am talking about the brothers and sisters who through their baptism come together, come together to profess that person of Jesus Christ in this world, who live as a testimony to Jesus in this world. I love our Church.

And third, I know and I am confident, that God, Christ, will not abandon us. He will not abandon the Church that he has invested with the Holy Spirit to lead and guide us. He will not abandon us. For in love he gives testimony to the fact that he’s with us yesterday, today, and forever. And it is that Christ that we rely upon. It is that Christ that we seek to establish in our world.

Having said that, because I love the Church, because I am a believer and because I know Christ will not abandon us, I accept the collective responsibility of the Church that committed sin, of the individuals that like the weeds planted in the soil, in the good soil, emerged and took advantage of those individuals who are innocent. For that, and for those actions I apologize to anyone who was abused by someone in the Church, especially those who are young children. Never should that have ever happened. Never should have that ever been tolerated. Never. And so therefore we can never apologize enough to those who have been abused. We can never apologize enough because they were abused under the cloak of someone who claimed to represent and be a shepherd. We can never apologize enough.

And now, even when suddenly those things that come about such as the Pennsylvania disclosure, the Cardinal McCarrick statement. When those things come about, it reopens the wounds for all of us, especially those who have been violated. It reopens those wounds of the Church. It calls us to reflect again and remind ourselves of the vigilance that is needed and demand it for those who embrace Christ. Now I know many of you here. I know your sense and your spirit. Let me say this to you. I myself am angered.  I myself am frustrated. I myself am shamed, embarrassed, by those actions. I share with you in your righteous indignation. But I ask you to take a look at that righteous indignation that caused Jesus to come into the temple and to drive those money changers out of the temple. He came in there and he saw those who were no longer following the respected representation of his Father in that temple. They were about personal gain. They were about advantage. And here Jesus comes in and with righteous indignation, he drives them out. And I tell you our righteous indignation should be like Jesus in the fact that we should strive to restore the temple, not tear it down. Righteous indignation can have us place our needs, our wants, our desires in front and we can be destructive. But it’s righteous indignation that calls us to restore the temple, to restore the order that should be there. To restore. Righteous indignation. And when we take a look at that righteous indignation we can see immediately that what is there is a loss of the sense of the rootedness of the presence of God in the doings and exchanges of our community. The loss of the sense of the rootedness of God.

In the first reading, there is an entrustment by Moses to Joshua. He is to lead the new community into the promised land. He is the one who is supposed to being about the fulfillment. And in that passage before the declaration by Joshua that is made, in that is literally a looking back the history as to how God has entrusted his presence throughout the age to each and every community that was a part of that diaspora. It was a reminder of how God was present. How God was exercising his love for that community. It was a statement of how we are connected to our God at the very rootedness of our being and how we owe to ourselves and to our community the proclamation and the understanding of that rootedness.

Brothers and sisters, individuals who did what they did, individuals who covered up, individuals who are no longer transparent. They were no longer looking at the rootedness that was present in the God of the covenant. They were no longer looking at the responsibility they had to the truth proclaimed in the person in the love of Jesus Christ. There can be many excuses that are offered. Many excuses. But there is no doubt that one could not exchange the attempted cover up of institutions over the destruction of innocent. There could no longer be a justification for that in the basis that if we would only cover things it would be better the next day. The problem is that sin once it is rooted into the lives of a community is destructive. And we have seen that destruction happen. We have seen that destruction happen. But we cannot allow ourselves to understand and to take a look and to take all of this righteous indignation, to take our angers and allow it to be new seeds planted in the ground next to the wheat. What we have to do is to understand and to take a look at what we should cultivate. And we cultivate the wheat which is life giving. The wheat which feeds us in terms of our own life. The wheat which is represented here at the altar in the sacrifice given by Jesus Christ. The wheat which is the restorative for us. We cannot take our angers and our righteous indignation and our hurts and our shames and bury them into the ground next to the weeds. What made the weeds so dangerous is they looked so much like the wheat. But in reality they served their own purpose, not the purpose which is called for by Jesus Christ in terms of reaching out in love and giving life to those in the community that need love and care.

Remember brothers and sisters that it was the very disciples who went before Jesus after he gave them a very hard saying about unless you eat of my flesh and drink of my blood, you shall not have life. Many people walked away. And Jesus looked at the disciples and said, “do you want to go to?” And their response was, “Lord, to whom shall we go?” You have the words of eternal life. At this critical time in our Church, a critical time in our history, we have to remind ourselves of the words of Jesus which is life giving. We have to remind ourselves of the words of Jesus and pledge ourselves to make sure that the rootedness of the person of Jesus Christ and the truth that he represents is clearly seen in the world. And we have to do so in ourselves in making sure that we are the testimony of the love of Christ which we proclaim. We have to be believers that call others to a belief in love in the church and an understanding that Christ does those that he love not abandon those that he loves.

We will go forward. And we’re going forward because there have been brave individuals who have offered their testimony, who have taken a light and have allowed that light to shine brightly on areas of the Church that were kept in darkness. It was their stories that have made us a different Church today. And it will be their stories that will be continued to be told, that will help us to continue to be vigilant, help us to understand our responsibility, assist us in being what the world needs as other Christs of love dependent upon that person that gives salvation to the world.

Brothers and sisters, we can do this together, but not alone. We must do it embedded in faith and with God and our Lord, Jesus Christ as our leader. The problem of the past is that there are those who no longer saw Christ as leading them for their responsibility to him and to our brothers and sisters. I give you a new commandment. Love one Another as I have loved you. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.

Most Reverend Jerome E. Listecki

Archbishop of Milwaukee 

archbishoplistecki@archmil.org

Amy Grau

Communication Director

graua@archmil.org

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