The Teaching that Convicts

They shall all be taught by God. (John 6:45) [Spanish]

Lord Jesus quoted the prophet Isaiah. Isaiah had prophesied about the restoration of the holy city of Jerusalem, a vision of peace and purity. Let me quote the passage:

O afflicted one, storm-battered and unconsoled, I lay your pavements in carnelians and your foundations in sapphires; I will make your battlements of rubies, your gates of carbuncles, and all your walls of precious stones. All your sons shall be taught by the Lord, and great shall be the peace of your children. (Isaiah 54)

Jesus quoted from this prophecy to answer those who murmured about Him. Christ had said, “I came down from heaven.” The murmurers could not accept it. They thought, ‘This man came from the household of a poor carpenter.’ They could not feature Jesus coming down from heaven to teach the human race the truth about divine love.

notre dame campus.jpg

Now, when it comes to divine teaching, a fair number of people these days are murmuring, too. How can the Catholic Church expect anyone to believe Her moral teachings anymore? Haven’t the latest scandals proven to the world that the hierarchy of the Church harbors evil and corrupt men?

As you know, the Cardinal McCarrick scandal has outraged me about as much as anyone. As I mentioned last week, I’m on the long list of priests that he ordained. And he ordained us while he himself should have been in jail.

But we priests are not the only ones outraged. How about all the good lay people in New Jersey, and in Washington, D.C., who supported McCarrick’s ministry as a bishop? How about all the students, faculty, alumni, and administrators of Fordham University, Catholic University, Notre Dame University, and all the other institutions which thought they had an illustrious friend? Now this friend has become an embarrassment and a disgrace.

How about the members of the Congregation of the Holy Cross, the religious order that runs Notre Dame? McCarrick had the temerity to preach at the Beatification of their founder, ten years ago. Now the joy of that occasion has a cloud over it forever.

El Greco Christ blessing croppedWhat about the students of Cardinal McCarrick High School in South Amboy, New Jersey? Thank God, they will not have to return to class this fall with the scandal hanging over them. Because the school closed its doors in 2015 due to low enrollment.

Point is: the USA has a lot of Catholics who feel personally betrayed. Meanwhile, a lot of non-Catholics see this spectacle and think: What kind of operation is the Catholic Church? Which makes us Catholics feel even more betrayed.

But let’s remember this. We know something important. We know that what this bad man did was wrong. How do we know it was wrong? Because we have received teaching about right and wrong from God, through His Church. We know right from wrong in the first place because God teaches us through His Church. And one thing that Jesus came down from heaven to teach us is: Every human being has dignity. No one has the right to take advantage of, or abuse, another human being.

The brave man in northern Virginia who had the courage to speak to reporters about what former-Cardinal McCarrick did to him—that man knew right from wrong; he knew that this priest had done him wrong. How did he know that? Because he had learned the truth about human dignity from Jesus and Jesus’ Church.

That man’s courage and insight is nothing less than a miracle of grace. Whenever victims of abuse have the courage and clarity to stand up and call evil evil—that is not a defeat for the Church. That is a victory.

So: what does this mean for us? Sorry to have to tell you: It means that we don’t have the easy option of saying to ourselves, ‘Well, the Church had a really bad Cardinal. So that means I can be bad, too.’

No. We know that sins are sins because the Holy Church teaches that they are sins. We know that bad is bad because the Church teaches us what goodness is. Which means that we all have to strive, more than ever, to live up to what we stand for.

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4 thoughts on “The Teaching that Convicts

  1. Dear Fr. Mark; are we really outraged, we the sheeple? Or are we so accustomed to base and violent behavior in others, thus in ourselves, that a ‘McCarrick’ is more validation for our individual rebellious hearts, someone we can point finger at and thus not look into our own mirror and sincerely Examine our own filth? Someone like you is very disturbing; speaking insightful truth, expressing righteous anger, taking and making a stand, all this Manning up with courage. “All it takes for EVIL to triumph is for good MEN to do nothing” (mike’s paraphrase) Would that more MEN would follow your example of love for Christ and His Church!

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