Saturday, April 18, 2009

Archbishop Dolan's Excellent Homily


Archbishop Timothy Dolan's inaugural homily sounds strong notes, plays harmonious chords, and sets a new tone, as he calls us to the work of Christ and the Church

Richard G. Malloy, S.J., Ph.D


April 15, 2009. Archbishop Timothy Dolan recognized all in the Church, as he began his "apostolic ministry" to the people of New York.

He spoke Spanish, noted the contributions of those as seemingly different as Franciscan Father Micheal Judge (one of the first to die on 9/11) and Fr. Richard John Neuhaus, and told some self deprecating jokes ("Maybe I should not be so flattered that so many are here . . . after all, everybody wants to "take sanctuary on income tax day!"). He named and recognized all who contribute to the life and presence of the church, folks as seemingly disparate as Catholic lay leaders like Pierre Toussaint, Dorothy Day, and Governor Al Smith.

He said this is not about Tim Dolan. It's all about Jesus and the Church, the human face of Jesus in the world today.

Dolan spoke of the Resurrection of Jesus continuing in the church's service to "the struggling, searching, and marginalized, as thousands of those closest to Christ's Sacred Heart-the hungry, homeless, sick, troubled, and immigrants." He spoke eloquently of the Resurrection going on, as the Church continues to embrace and protect the dignity of every human person, the sanctity of human life, from the tiny baby in the womb to the last moment of natural passing into eternal life. And the cathedral erupted in applause.

He loudly and lovingly proclaimed, " Everyone in this mega-community is a somebody with an extraordinary destiny. Everyone is a somebody in whom God has invested an infinite love. That is why the Church reaches out to the unborn, the suffering, the poor, our elders, the physically and emotionally challenged, those caught in the web of addictions."

Dolan got to the heart of the matter when he told New York and the World what the church has to offer. "And just what, I ask you, does the Church have to give? Does she have power and clout, property and prestige? Forget it! Those days are gone, if they ever did exist at all. The Church instead borrows the vocabulary Jesus Himself used in those days after He rose, as we speak of "a peace He gives us," of "feeding my sheep," of "teaching the nations."

The Church really has no treasure but her faith in the Lord, which is not bad at all, as we shrug and say with Peter and John in the Acts of the Apostles, "Silver and gold we have not, but, what we do have, we give: Jesus Christ...!"

Amen. This is a guy with whom we can walk the road to Emmaus, the image he used to poetically draw his homily together.

This is a guy for whom priests and people can play. The house that Ruth built may be seeing a new Bambino swinging for the fences in Tim Dolan.

*******************************************************
Here are excerpts from the homily.

"This is the day the Lord has made! Let us rejoice and be glad! Alleluia!" "He has risen as He said, alleluia! alleluia!" "Jesus Christ yesterday and today, the beginning and the end, Alpha and Omega. All time belongs to Him and all the ages, to Him be glory and power! Amen!" ...

Thank you all!

But, I hope you understand, as grateful as I am to all of you, there is another claim on my gratitude that towers above all the rest.

Above all, above all, I give praise to God, our Father, for raising His Son Jesus Christ from the dead! For "Christ is risen! He is truly risen! Give thanks to the Lord for He is good! For His mercy endures for ever!"

For this is not all about Timothy Dolan, or all about cardinals and bishops, or about priests and sisters, or even about family and cherished friends.

Nope . . . this is all about two people: Him and her . . . this is all about Jesus and His Bride, the Church. For, as de Lubac asked, "What would I ever know of Him without her?"

The Resurrection, Easter, is the very foundation of our faith, our hope, our love. Everything in the Church commences when, like those two disciples on the road to Emmaus that first Easter, we recognize Jesus as risen from the dead. The Church herself begins.

The Resurrection of Jesus is so central to our faith that we celebrate it every Sunday at Mass. On my first day as your archbishop I dream that we can reclaim Sunday as the Lord's Day, anchored in our faithfulness to Sunday Mass, our weekly family meal with the risen Jesus. ...

In thanking God for the Resurrection of Christ, we thank God for the Church. For as "Jesus is the human face of God," as Pope Benedict XVI often reminds us, the Church is the human face of Jesus.

For us as Catholics, Christ and His Church are one.

The triumph, the life, the light, the mercy, the raising up, the salvation which exploded Easter morning as Jesus rose from the dead continues in His Church, an extraordinary spiritual family that gathers men and women of every nation, race, language, and background into a breathing tapestry of faith.

The power of the risen Christ shows itself -- Christ shows Himself! -- in the extraordinary community that is the Church.

God's love for us is so personal, so passionate, so intense that He gave His only begotten Son for our salvation. And when God the Father raised His Son from the dead, He put His divine seal of approval upon His work of art, the human project, on women and men made in His own image and likeness, washed clean by the blood of His Son on Good Friday, destined to spend eternity at His side, and assured us, "The evil, horror, lies, hate, suffering and death of last Friday will not prevail! Goodness, decency, truth, love, and life will have the last word."

That's the Easter message the Church is entrusted to live and to tell. For, believe it or not, the dying and rising of Jesus continues in His Church. ...

--The Resurrection of Jesus goes on in our apostolate for the struggling, searching, and marginalized, as thousands of those closest to Christ's Sacred Heart-the hungry, homeless, sick, troubled, and immigrants--find solace and help in our Catholic charities and healthcare. Conscious are we of former Mayor Ed Koch's observation that the Catholic Church is the glue that keeps this city together . . . and, and . . . the Resurrection goes on, as His Church continues to embrace and protect the dignity of every human person, the sanctity of human life, from the tiny baby in the womb to the last moment of natural passing into eternal life. As the Servant of God Terrence Cardinal Cooke wrote, "Human life is no less sacred or worthy of respect because it is tiny, pre-born, poor, sick, fragile, or handicapped." Yes, the Church is a loving mother who has a zest for life and serves life everywhere, but she can become a protective "mamma bear" when the life of her innocent, helpless cubs is threatened. Everyone in this mega-community is a somebody with an extraordinary destiny. Everyone is a somebody in whom God has invested an infinite love. That is why the Church reaches out to the unborn, the suffering, the poor, our elders, the physically and emotionally challenged, those caught in the web of addictions.

--The risen Jesus remains alive in this archdiocese as the Church partners with respected neighbors and friends of other Christian families, our Jewish older brothers and sisters in the faith, who today conclude Passover and have our best wishes, and with our Islamic and Eastern religious communities, as the Church relishes the unique ecumenical and inter-religious concord of this greater New York community; and as the archdiocese collaborates with our political, civic, cultural, and business leaders, so very welcome here today, in all noble prospects advancing human welfare and dignity. Seven-and-a-half years ago, on September 11, 2001, New Yorkers gave a lesson of extraordinarily generous courage to the world. Selfless police officers, fire fighters, and emergency medical personnel, saved lives, and many gave theirs. Their sacrifice was an ecumenical, interreligious civic testimony to the worth of every human person. You did us all proud, and now how proud I am now to partner with all of you in that same spirit;

--and, maybe most of all, Christ remains present in His Church as people whisper prayers, worship at Sunday Mass, struggle with sin and pursue virtue, hunger for God's Word and Sacrament, and realize that, as much as we love New York, we have here no lasting home, for our true citizenship is in heaven.

And just what, I ask you, does the Church have to give? Does she have power and clout, property and prestige? Forget it! Those days are gone, if they ever did exist at all.

The Church instead borrows the vocabulary Jesus Himself used in those days after He rose, as we speak of "a peace He gives us,"

of "feeding my sheep,"

of "teaching the nations."

The Church really has no treasure but her faith in the Lord, which is not bad at all, as we shrug and say with Peter and John in the Acts of the Apostles, "Silver and gold we have not, but, what we do have, we give: ...

Jesus Christ...!

Now, let me bring this home by suggesting that we all take a little stroll down...the road to Emmaus.

See, I mentioned to you that the Church continues not just the rising but also the dying of Jesus Christ. We've just been through a litany of ways that the rising of Jesus radiates in the Church in this historic archdiocese. But we'd be naive if we overlooked the dying, wouldn't we?

For indeed not only the Resurrection but the cross, the dying, of Christ goes on:

--As we are tempted to fatigue in our works of service and charity;

--As we continue realistically to nurse the deep wounds inflicted by the horrible scandal, sin, and crime of sexual abuse of minors, never hesitant to beg forgiveness from God and from victim survivors and their families, committed to continue the reform, renewal, and outreach Pope Benedict encouraged us to last year, when, among many other places, he urged us in this very cathedral, "to respond with Christian hope to the continuing challenges [of] this painful situation..."

-- The cross is there as more and more of our people are burdened under financial woe and uncertainty;

--As strains on the family take their toll, or as the Church is ridiculed for her teaching on the sanctity of marriage;

--As we struggle to keep our parishes and schools strong, and recognize that we need a new harvest of vocations to the priesthood, diaconate, religious life, and faithful, life-long, life-giving marriage;

Shortages and cutbacks, people mad at the Church or even leaving her, and our seeming inability to get the Gospel message credibly out there . . .

. . . are we not at times perhaps like those two dejected disciples on the road to Emmaus? They were so absorbed in their own woes, so forlorn in their mistaken conclusion that the one in whom they had placed their trust was dead, so shocked by the shame, scandal, and scorn of last Friday . . . that they failed to recognize Jesus as He walked right alongside of them!

I say to you, my sister and brother disciples now on the road to Emmaus, let's not turn inward to ourselves, our worries, our burdens, our fears; but turn rather to Him, the way, the truth, and the life, the one who told us over and over, "Be not afraid!", who assured us that He "would be with us all days, even to the end of the world," and who promised us that "not even the gates of hell would prevail," the one who John Paul the Great called, "the answer to the question posed by every human life," and recognize Him again in His word, in the "breaking of the bread," in His Church.

Let Him "turn us around" as He did those two disciples, turned them around because, simply put, they were going the wrong way, and sent them running back to Jerusalem, where Peter was, where the apostles were, where the Church was.

For three weeks in July, 1992, I was on pilgrimage in Israel. I had a wonderful Franciscan guide who made sure I saw all the sacred places in the Holy Land. The day before I departed, he asked, "Is there anything left you want to see?"

"Yes," I replied, "I would like to walk the road to Emmaus."

"That we cannot do," he told me, "You see, no one really knows where that village of Emmaus actually was, so there is no more road to Emmaus."

Sensing my disappointment, he remarked, "Maybe that's part of God's providence, because we can now make every journey we undertake a walk down the Road to Emmaus."

My new friends of this great archdiocese, would you join your new pastor on an "adventure in fidelity," as we turn the Staten Island Expressway, Fifth Avenue, Madison Avenue, Broadway, the FDR, the Major Deegan, and the New York State Thruway into the Road to Emmaus, as we witness a real "miracle on 34th street" and turn that into the road to Emmaus?

For, dare to believe, that:
From Staten Island to Sullivan County
From the Bowery, to the Bronx, to Newburgh,
From White Plains to Poughkeepsie...

He is walking right alongside us.

"For why do we look for the living among the dead?"

"For He is risen as He said, alleluia, alleluia!"

"Give thanks to the Lord for He is good, for His mercy endures forever."

© Archdiocese of New York 2006-2008. All rights reserved

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