“Brothers and sisters: Watch carefully how you live, not as foolish persons but as wise, making the most of the opportunity, because the days are evil.”
“The days are evil.”
How truly do these words ring in my ears today, as I stand in front of my flock in the light of the horrifying revelations from this past week about the Church’s inaction in the face of its own evil and even their frustration of attempts at justice. I, like you, am hurt, saddened, and ashamed that this Church that I love so much could have done such wicked things. Now, in the light of this truth, we stand exposed, angry, and perhaps scared, facing an uncertain future for ourselves and our world.
“The days are evil.”
One of my dad’s favorite movies was “A Few Good Men,” starring Tom Cruise and Jack Nicholson. In fact, I think he liked it simply for that famous courtroom scene when Cruise’s character demands, “I want the truth!” To which Nicholson’s character retorts, “You can’t handle the truth!” We always seemed to come in for that scene. It’s a classic.
However, is it true? Can we handle the truth? What do we do with hard truth? Do we confront it with an eye to change ourselves, or do we run? St. Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians provides us with a challenge this week: will we seek the truth and live it, even when it is hard? The world’s answer to this is usually no. The world’s response is often to keep on living in blissful ignorance. Sadly, this was also the Church’s response – a Church that conformed itself to the ways of the world, lowering standards and protecting reputations, rather than pursuing holiness and caring for the vulnerable.
While it is important for us to continue to seek that light be shed on the difficult truth of the Church’s failures, we also cannot absolve ourselves from the real work of the Church – the work that Christ gave us all when He commissioned His disciples to “Go and teach all nations.” Regardless of the sins of our leaders, we still follow the Good Shepherd, we are still fed with “the living bread come down from heaven,” we are still called to heal the world through the same compassion of Christ that fed the five thousand, that welcomed the children, and that suffered and died on the Cross.
Jesus’ challenge to follow Him and to be fed by Him – to “eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood”– was very hard for the disciples who heard it that day. In the midst of the horrors of this week’s news and the backlash against the Church, it may seem hard for us too. Maybe we are tempted to walk away. Maybe we feel the desire to join others who have left the Church. However, this sacred meal – this Eucharist that Jesus has prepared and shares with us – this memorial of His own Passion and death – this is why we are here. I am not here because of my faith in any man. I am here because of my faith in Jesus. And I cannot go anywhere else for this.
The weeks and months and years ahead will be challenging. Our house is a mess – the Burglar, the Devil, has broken in and corrupted our home. But we do not leave our house because the burglar has entered. We throw the burglar out – and all of his helpers! That is not easy to say, and it is not easy to do; but it is only possible from inside the home, and it is only possible because the Head of the house is Christ.
I want you all to know that I love you very much. I feel the pain and betrayal as well. I cry for the Church that my family has loved and trusted – that you love and trusted – because we are better than this. If any of you want to talk or vent about this sadness, I am here. If any of you have been affected by abuse, you have a voice and a supporter right here.
“The days are evil,” yes. But the truth is out there. The Truth is Jesus Christ
And the truth will set us free.