This mornings serenade from the heavenly places:
The first reading from Jeremiah for Sunday July 22 from the USCCB website:
Woe to the shepherds
who mislead and scatter the flock of my pasture,
says the LORD.
Therefore, thus says the LORD, the God of Israel,
against the shepherds who shepherd my people:
You have scattered my sheep and driven them away.
You have not cared for them,
but I will take care to punish your evil deeds.
I myself will gather the remnant of my flock
from all the lands to which I have driven them
and bring them back to their meadow;
there they shall increase and multiply.
I will appoint shepherds for them who will shepherd them
so that they need no longer fear and tremble;
and none shall be missing, says the LORD.
Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD,
when I will raise up a righteous shoot to David;
as king he shall reign and govern wisely,
he shall do what is just and right in the land.
In his days Judah shall be saved,
Israel shall dwell in security.
This is the name they give him:
“The LORD our justice.”
The word of the Lord
Then there’s the Parable of the Lost Sheep from Matthew 18.
If you wanna be great in God’s Kingdom, learn to be the servant of all.
Jesus washed the feet of the disciples. Washed. Their. Stinky. Dusty. Dirty Feet.
In reading a Tweet on the current scandal with one of our, now retired and out of public ministry, Cardinals two thoughts came to mind: power and servant leadership.
The timing of the reading from Jeremiah is perfectly, divinely, timed. “Woe to you Shepherds who mislead and scatter the flock of my pasture, says the Lord.” When the news first broke of this I thought this guy, like another Cardinal who dealt with accusations of sexual impropriety, was falsely accused. From having served in an Archdiocese while he was Archbishop I knew he wasn’t particularly well liked. But it was, even then, more than that. Liking or not liking is irrelevant. There was a lack of respect that I didn’t understand.
What makes all of this. All. OF. THIS. So scandalous is the deep betrayal of rightly placed spiritual and physical trust in this – no any – Servant of God. The shepherd leaving that one sheep exposed, broken, and for the wolves to devour, potentially with out Faith because of the abuse and scandal. As with rocks tossed in a pond there is a ripple effect, multiplying out – there’s the loss of vocations, there are others who will see this and leave, there are others who will doubt the validity of Sacraments received.
Oh how the heart aches to see this Church I love once again rocked with this Scandalous behavior of one of our Servant Leaders. So many Priests preaching this weekend on this, taking responsibility for behavior that is not their own. Priests weeping, apologizing, owning, expressing a vulnerability, a servant leadership we, the faithful, need to see. But more we Need to support.
Jesus exemplified the posture of leadership and authority when He washed the feet of the Apostles. Unfortunately this has been twisted to Power. This misuse of Power is ugly, and clearly dangerous – not only to those abused but by those doing the abusing. I have no fix. I have no words of wisdom. I can and will pray for our leaders the Bishops, Priests and Deacons, and others in service to the Church. I can and will pray for the wisdom to know when, and how to speak out if needed.
Personally, I nearly left the Church and Faith behind sometime ago because of some ministry related situations. Somehow through all of this I’ve been blessed to stay and am reclaiming the Faith by the Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.
For all of the times I have failed to give witness to your Love and Compassion I seek Your Mercy Lord. May I extend that Mercy ever outward. Amen