There has been a lot of anger expressed from last week’s publication of the Grand Jury Report. In trying again to sift through the emotions and indignation against these crimes and trying to make sense of these horrific sins, I find myself frustrated by this rugged road and thinking about the same reaction of Jesus to the temple marketers. I can identify with his righteous anger and I hear the words of Saint Paul, “Watch carefully how you live, not as foolish persons but as wise ones…do not be led into debauchery.”
I am not angry at the Church; the Church is the Body of Christ, Whom I love with all my heart. I am angry at those bishops and priests who have betrayed themselves and the people they were sent, not to abuse, but to serve. I feel somewhat helpless to have prevented these crimes that happened before I was born or when I was a newly ordained priest, but, I know that I can do my best to prevent them now. So, here in this parish we are vigilant with our children and our processes to make sure everyone is safe. I do have an anger that is righteous.
You see, righteous anger is not the vice of anger. Righteous anger always leads to good, to betterment, to repentance, to penance and to renewal. The vice of anger always leads to destruction, disunity, vengeance, despair even of the innocent; that’s why it is a capital sin.
Throughout His life, Jesus leads us from night into the Dawn; from anger to hope, from woundedness to healing, from sin into reconciliation. He helps us be determined to conform our lives more closely to His. This never happens instantaneously; it takes time, prayer and a willingness to listen to the Word of God and discern His Will. “Be filled with the Spirit…giving thanks always and for everything in the name our Lord, Jesus Christ!”
When Philadelphia suffered initially through our own Grand Jury, we made improvements; we set new standards and re-dedicated ourselves to the protection of all God’s children. There is more to be done of course. But we are always tweaking things and looking to find weaknesses in our system in an effort to guarantee this will never happen again. In other words, we have become vigilant in this cause.
I want to leave you with two suggestions, First, look up Catholic Philly.com. It has good resources available for all of us.
Secondly, do not allow yourselves to be drawn in to the vice of anger but rather guide your anger to righteousness for the sake of God’s Kingdom. The Gospel says, “be not like your ancestors who are and still died, but eat this Bread and you will live forever.”
My dear friends, pray what we already believe:
“O God, Who have prepared for those who love you good things, which no eye can see, fill our hearts with the warmth of your love, so that loving you in all things and above all things, we may attain your promises which surpass every human desire.”