The most profound example of forgiveness that many of us New Yorkers had the chance to witness up close and personal has to be that of the late NYPD Detective Steven McDonald forgiving the teenager who in 1986 shot him in Central Park and left him paralyzed from the neck down.
If anything can be two different things at the same time, the Beatitudes, which we deal with this week in the Gospel from Luke, meet the criteria.
One beautiful July Saturday three summers ago, some former co-workers and I were enjoying lunch on the Coney Island boardwalk when I put out an invitation for Mass later that evening.
Two images on the shelf above my desk keep my focus as I write this column: a crumbling drawing of Jesus salvaged from my childhood home that dates back to the 1960s, and a figurine of St. Michael the Archangel, that my brother Larry gave me. The drawing of Jesus, so lifelike that His eyes seem to pierce the soul, is disintegrating, tearing, and browning at the edges; the St. Michael figure lost half of its left wing when I dropped it a good while back. These images guide me both for what they depict, and – much like the People of God, the Mystical Body of Christ – how they are damaged, but yet endure.
In a recent meeting with my parish pastoral council, we discussed the declining numbers of people coming to Sunday Mass. There are a number of reasons for that, but I think one of the main reasons why we are not getting new people to come to Mass is because they are not invited.
Last Sunday, with the celebration of the Baptism of the Lord, the Church concluded the Christmas season. I mentioned to my parishioners at Mass that when they come back to Church this Sunday, all of the Christmas trees will be gone, all the pine wreaths, red bows and poinsettias will be out of the sanctuary. We have joyfully celebrated the birth of the Savior, Jesus Christ. Now that the celebration is over, we must conform our lives to Him. That will take some time and some deep spiritual work.
This June, I will celebrate nine years of priesthood. These have been nine years filled with God’s love and mercy. I must say that it has been nine happy years!
When I was a newly ordained priest I would make frequent classroom visits to our parish school. I had always enjoyed visiting our school children during the Christmas season. I remember very vividly asking a group of fourth graders the question, “What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word Christmas?”
“My father is lost.” At least that is what I told the security officer at the New York World’s Fair in 1964.
WHEN WE USE the words “Body of Christ,” we are usually making a reference to the Eucharist.