Thursday, April 18, 2013

Transformed by love for the poor...

The following reflections are excerpted from Monsignor Moroney's Keynote Address to the Boston Archdiocesan Eucharistic Congress, entitled "Go and Announce the Gospel of the Lord."

Finally, we are transformed by love: love of the poor, whom Jesus called blessed and with whom he spent a good deal of his time.  The poor who call us to a life of charitable virtue and who remind us who we are.

We need the poor and we are far more blessed by them than they are by us.
"The centrality of the Mass was crucial to Dorothy [Day], and she considered it the greatest work of the day. In the early 1940’s, when she addressed a group of “would-be Catholic Workers ,” she admonished them that “the Mass is the Work”! All their activities were first to be offered and then united frequently with the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross and on the altar, because Dorothy felt that “ all life flowed from worship; only thus would their work be a success, irrespective of its external attainment." (Excerpt from Introduction by Mark and Louise Zwick to Dorothy Day‘s journal On Pilgrimage (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans, 1999).
And yet we’re always trying to drive the poor away, to keep them from upsetting the admirable stability of our balanced lives...all because they remind us of our own fragility: that we are never really in control.  That we could be as they are but for the grace of God.  That in what really matters, selfishness and sin, we’re probably poorer than they are.

And yet Jesus calls them blessed.  The same Jesus who said “judge not, lest ye be judged,” and means it.  The same Jesus who says ‘whatever you do to the least, you do to me,’ and means it. The same Jesus who says, if they slap you on one side, give them the other,’ and means it. The same Jesus who says, ‘love one another as I have loved you,’ and then dies on the cross for us.

That means that if we really seek to walk the road to calvary, to follow Jesus in offering his holy and living sacrifice, that we must always be a home for the poor: the poor in heart, the poor in stomach, the poor in love. It means that we are truly followers of Jesus Christ if we attract the lonely, the crazy, the dysfunctional, the addicted, the hungry, the guilty, the broken and those who have learned how to alienate almost everyone else in the world. 

Any liturgical community recognizing the Priesthood of Jesus Christ is a place where the weird, the odd and the rejected of the world find a home. And anyone who serves such a liturgy must be so in touch with his own sinfulness, his own weirdness, his own brokenness that he is ready to welcome other broken little ones with open arms and a heart filled with compassion and understanding.

We need the poor, for they remind us of his own poverty, of our own fragility, of the poverty we carry deep down inside.  The poor, in short, remind us to be humble, and we learn humility by participating fully, consciously and actively in the saving Sacrifice which is the source and the summit of our lives.

Monsignor Moroney