Homily of Archbishop Gustavo at Presbyteral Convocation Mass; Sutherland Springs shooting victims re
November 06, 2017 | posted by Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller, MSpS
Homily of Archbishop Gustavo at Presbyteral Convocation Mass; Sutherland Springs shooting victims remembered
November 6, 2017
“How good and how pleasant it is, when brothers dwell together as one!” (Ps 133:1). Pope Francis has spoken of the “beauty of fraternity, of being priests together, of following the Lord not one by one, but together, and also in the great variety of gifts and personalities . . . all lived in fraternity.” The Holy Father added that “this is neither easy nor immediate and we cannot take it for granted . . . It is a choice, which corresponds to the reality that constitutes us, to the gift that we have received . . . communion in Christ in the presbyterate, around the bishop.” It is good for us to be together gathered around the Lord’s table, listening to the Word of God! We have many different personalities -- and a great diversity of gifts that we bring. Thank you for choosing to be together at this convocation.
The happy occasion of our celebration tonight and our convocation these days, is unfortunately tarnished by grief and dismay, as we join our Baptist brothers and sisters suffering the senseless loss of 26 lives at the shooting yesterday in Sutherland Springs. They are our family, friends and neighbors who live among us! They are our fellow Christians and they are God’s children!
This has to end! The shooter certainly had a mental health problem and horrific acts of violence certainly can occur anywhere in the world. However, we cannot deny in all honesty that there is a distinct trend of violence in our country with unique characteristics. No oneshould be giving easy answers to such a complex problem. It deserves a serious, deep and thorough analysis of all the possible edges of this phenomenon. The American people deserve it and they have the right, as well as the duty, to participate in a widespread respectful debate, keeping an open mind to change whatever needs to be changed. In all humility, everyone should remain open to the voice of the Holy Spirit. With this foundation, the voice of the people should prevailover any economic or political partial interests. The alternative is collusion, regardless if it is open or hidden.
We are a people of hope! We must defeat our addiction to violence! We will “not be conquered by evil,” but we will “conquer evil with good.” (Rom 12:21) Violence will not be defeated with more violence. We will defeat it with Christian forgiveness, prayer and compassion. We will defeat it with God’s help, as we work tirelessly to build a culture of encounter. Catholic Charities, Catholic Cemeteries and other resources of the Archdiocese of San Antonio are already working to help the victims and we will not rest, as we keep committing ourselves to build God’s kingdom of peace in the world.
Our experience as priests echoes St. Paul’s exclamation today: “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How inscrutable are his judgments, and how unsearchable his ways!” As Father Virgilio Elizondo used to say often: “God is full of incredible surprises.” We see this in our call to be priests and in our daily ministry when we are able to discern God’s work among us and through us and in the lives of the people we serve.
However, we all face a temptation: doing something good for someone and expecting to receive something in return -- at least a word of gratitude. When that does not happen, are we disappointed? Do we become angry or discouraged? A leading Pharisee invited Jesus to dinner. Jesus tells his host not to follow the usual custom of inviting only one’s friends, one’s peers -- who can be counted on to return the favor with an invitation to join them at their home the next time. Jesus says that we are to be generous in our service, expecting nothing in return, not even thanks. He also challenges us to take care of the most vulnerable and needy -- the widow, the orphan, the addicted, the imprisoned, the detained, the forgotten, the neglected, the undocumented, the unborn, the lonely.
On the day after his election, Pope Francis said: “How I would like a Church which is poor and for the poor!” This is the challenge before us, my brothers -- to serve the poor generously, expecting nothing in return.
Our Lady of Guadalupe is with us as she was with St. Juan Diego. Mary, unite us in fraternity and communion!