Memorial of Pope Pius X
Scripture Readings: Ex 28:1-10; Mt 19:23-30
In the first reading we, hear Ezekiel say to Israel: “They will bring you down to the pit” “You will die the death of the uncircumcised at the hands of foreigners.” A young priest, currently serving in a parish in Western Indiana, who has, enjoyed some exposure on YouTube tells of himself and a group of idealistic, somewhat arrogant seminarians studying in Rome in 2005, where there was in residence some middle aged priests on sabbatical;
men with beer bellies and wearing khaki shorts – looking in every way exactly like the kind of priests these fervent seminarians swore they would never allow themselves to become.
One evening it was arranged for one of the older priests to address the seminarians who awaited his talk with some apprehension. The priest, taking the microphone directly addressed the sexual abuse scandal, then at its height, and told his young confreres: “The church is on fire. Our house is burning. Many people are fleeing the house. You young men are running back into the house; straight into the fire. On behalf of my brother priests, I want to say, we love you, and we admire your courage. We thank you for the sacrifices you have made and will make for love of Christ and his church.” The embraces exchanged by two generations of priests that day was something like a Pentecost moment; a communion sealed with fire.
But, the bridging of the generation gap between priests – is not the end of that story. Communion – is a longer story. Here’s how that story ends. Arriving inside the burning house, those seminarians are astonished to see before them, in the very middle of the living room – a figure, the figure of a living man sitting in the flames singing: “Alleluia! My soul give praise to the Lord; I will praise the Lord all my days, make music to my God while I live.” Very much encouraged and strengthened by the presence of this man, it takes a little while for the seminarians to understand – they are looking at a monk. They had forgotten all about monks, but he was always there. His vocation is that of Mary, the sister Of Lazarus. Mary, sits . . . listening to Jesus. He is saying to her: “The Messiah must suffer in order to enter into his glory”.Mary realizes the little house at Bethany is on fire. Her house is burning. Jesus is in the house. Mary will stay with him. She is not a priest. There are priests in the house. They are there to get a job done: they are going to try to put the fire out that the church may survive and carry on its work. Mary will offer them no assistance. She is not a fire-fighter and is little interested in putting out fires. Jesus is in the fire; she is with him, and that is enough for her. Seeing Mary sitting there; knowing all that is in her heart Jesus, loving her, as perhaps he never loved any other woman, he pours into her the fullness of love and communion which is the very life of the Holy Trinity. This is how Mary is able to sit in the flames and not be burned. Taken into intimate communion with the Holy Trinity Mary lives, in a sense, – after the fire.
Very soon an Independent Council, sent by Pope Francis will conduct an investigation into sexual abuse by priests in the U.S. This is the same man who conducted the investigation in Chili which resulted in every bishop in that country submitting to the pope his resignation. And on the morning he begins his work, the monks of New Melleray, will likewise take up our work, gathering for morning prayer, and begin to sing: “Alleluia! My soul give praise to the Lord; I will praise the Lord all my days, make music to my God while I live.”