My Dear Sisters and Brothers in faith! The image of that fragile fellow believer of ours has stayed with me as a prophetic image of our Church today. Our Archbishop Peter Andrew Comensoli, in his letter to all of us, put it in this way: ‘Your heart is hurting; and your home of faith is hurting.’ Home of faith that’s our Church community. The words of our Archbishop and the image of that elderly woman I find as something I can recall as I pray and reflect on the events which have been unfolding. As we are hurting our Archbishop has invited us ‘to never forget those who walk with this pain every day, whose lives remain devastated by the impact of sexual abuse inflicted on them in their vulnerability.’ Suffering can damage people. We know it well. That’s why I turn to Our Blessed Mother who stood at the foot of the cross and looked at the suffering body of her Son Jesus Christ. She didn’t have power to change it. She didn’t have a means to change it. But she wasn’t hopeless. She loved that suffering body. She held fast to her faith that God was to bring salvation out of that. We call the Church the Body of Christ. Today this Body is severely hurt. It is suffering. At the heart of that suffering Body are those who were abused by the people who were called to show them the face of Christ. In this suffering Body we also see other holy People of God who are hurting because they love the Church, because they love Jesus Christ. You haven’t chosen this situation. You may be asking now how to deal with this situation. Let me tell you what I will be doing. The holy season of Lent is just a few days away. In our churches we will walk the Stations of the Cross. I will make it my Lenten practice to use so called ‘Mary’s Stations of the Cross.’ The reflections help us to look at Jesus’ way to Golgotha through the eyes of Our Blessed Mother. Some years ago I participated in such Stations of the Cross. The reflections were read by a woman who lost her son to a suicide. She carried a lot of suffering, as she led us through the prayers it all came back to her again, this time however she went through her suffering with the suffering Virgin Mary. I will walk this Lent with Mary praying to draw grace to look at the suffering Body of Christ, which are the suffering people of God, the way she looked at the suffering Body of Christ walking through the streets of Jerusalem to the Calvary.
My Dear Fellow Believers! In the Gospel Jesus said to his disciples to ‘take a plank out of their own eyes.’ For a long time, far too long, such a blank was the blindness of some of our Church people to the tragedy of sexual abuse. This stigma will not disappear any time soon. However as I look with Mary at Jesus I see him carrying a horizontal beam. He also said to us: ‘Take up your cross and follow me.’ Thank God we are not blind to the suffering of the survivors of sexual abuse any more. Today at the verge of Lent maybe the Lord Jesus is pointing out to us the plank we have taken out of our eyes and invites us to take it up with humility and responsibility. I hope and I pray that it can bring healing and new life to each one of us hurting at the moment and to our hurting home of faith.