While There Is Great Sadness, There Must Also Be Great Joy

October 6, 2019

The words of the prophet Habakkuk in the first reading could easily be spoken in our present day by any one of us.  “Destruction and violence are before me.”  Such words could be plucked right out of today’s headlines.  The prophet speaks of seeing ruin and misery.  We can all find reasons to be pulled down in despair.  We see the brutality of how some treat others.  On this pro-life weekend, we realize the issues of life need a voice.  We are to be a voice for those who no longer have a voice because it was silenced through an abortion.  We are to be a voice that intervenes between drug dealers and their unsuspecting teen users and say no more.  We are to be a voice to end bullying in cyberspace, in classrooms and on school buses. There seems to be no end to the destruction of human life that is presented before us.

Recently my attention was drawn to a commentary published in the newspaper by writer Michael Ryan entitled “The Catholic sex abuse crisis fills me with despair. But this church is still an oasis.”  It was the perspective of a man working through the paradox of the scandal and also what the Church still is to him, a voice of life.  To my knowledge, the writer is not directly a victim of the scandal and it is true that those who suffered it firsthand may never be able to find Church as sanctuary again.  The torment and distress endured by so many because of the failures of the Church to protect children greatly grieves me and I realize that trying to put back together a life after abuse is an overwhelming process. My prayers go there each day for them.  In the midst of his despair about it all, the author speaks of an experience in which he found comfort in coming home to a Church that harbored good memories for him.  This encounter challenged him to recognize the Church as something still important to him, even in the face of its sin and scandal.  This viewpoint is what drew me into reading the article.  If one person can move past the horror of the violence and still find some good, can we do the same?

In the midst of the life issues placed before us that seem to be insurmountable obstacles, can we find hope? How can we do that?  For some they will find hope Marching for Life.  Others may find it in a Holy Hour before the Blessed Sacrament.  Many will find hope by becoming a friend to someone who is in need.  And then there are those who will find it by getting into the political arena and writing to politicians.

The prophet in the first reading today comes to the conclusion that because of faith, everything changes.  Faith shall bring us to justice in God’s time.  It will bring us to life.  I believe our faith is that powerful.  I remember a better time like most of us do, when the parks and streets were safe.  I remember a time when conversations and emails were positive and what was posted lifted others up because it was good news and not filled with negativity and bullying.  Now is not a time for fault finding or a time for using energy to point fingers.  But now may just be a time to deepen our faith and reclaim what is positive and real.  Jesus has not abandoned us but invites us to be pro-life. God has brought to life our very souls from the moment of conception.  Science can never duplicate or imitate what only God can do.  Celebrating this truth and being in awe of it is a great place for healing and life.  A voice, our voice is to be united in faith and proclaiming hope.  Hope begins with never letting go to what God has done for us.  Our voice for life begins with rekindling the joy of taking a breath knowing it is a gift from God.

Reverend  John J. Ouper