We Are Not Communists: Homily for Holy Thursday 2006
By Fr. Robert J. Carr
Homily for Holy Thursday 2006
Today is the day we often commemorate the institution of the Eucharist and clearly that is indicated by the second reading. However, the gospel is about Jesus washing his disciples' feet. This would indicate a call to serve. Together, they may also indicate the vocation of the Catholic.
I believe we have lost a sense of what it means to be Catholic in our Church today. I mean throughout the Church. We need to understand our call in light of the two readings I just mentioned. The reason is that if we look at it, the readings and the celebration of the day reflect the two most important commandments in our faith. Love the Lord Your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. (Eucharist) Love your neighbor as yourself. (Service)
Together they bring a level of existence and being that is key to the Catholic, one who serves with the mindset of Christ.
We have had an interesting Lent both in the Church and in the world. We have also seen our faith clash with elements of our government, nothing new for Catholics. Yet, unlike what we have seen over the last four years, people seeking to work to bring down the whole Church, we have been attacked by some elements, both within and without of our faith for our stand on issues dealing with immigration. These issues involve serving others in a political sphere. However, we need to be careful. If we do that without focusing on the Eucharist we make a grave mistake. This is what Communists do.
We are not Communists. This is an important distinction. Seeking to serve those around us, without being in touch with Eucharist will lead us to serve without the mind of Christ. We will serve with the mind of humanity. That system failed and Jesus' death and resurrection brought an end to it through Christianity. Would that we took our love for the Eucharist and shared it with the same zeal as the Communist shares his party line, however.
I say that in light of the fact that at the immigration rally in Boston there were several tables features books of communist literature. Virtually nothing at the rally as featuring anything Catholic, not even fliers. Further, there were seven thousand people there, including a host of active Catholics who are also American citizens. Even Catholic Charities was there.
However, one of the most important blogs in the political sphere, Powerline, featured a collection of citizen video taken by people within the rallies throughout the country who for the most part were against the immigrants. All the visuals of the Boston rally despite the fact there were 7000 people present, despite the fact that there were many American flags or the fact that there were people of many races including the Irish Immigrants and the Black Preachers or even counter demonstrators walking peacefully with anti-immigrant signs in the midst of the rally or flying overhead with an anti-immigrant message towed behind a plane, the only footage that appeared on that well read site was of the tables of Communist literature and a Che Guevara T-Shirt.
This bring up two issues. First as I said, one can ask, why was there no one distributing Catholic literature with the equal zeal as the Communists. I say that to myself as well. Second what message are we preaching?
The most important message we can preach to the world can be found in our relationship to the Eucharist. Jesus is the Lamb of God who sacrificed himself that we can be saved. As we say during the Eucharist, Christ has died, Christ is Risen, Christ will come again. Our message is that those who embrace Christ will be saved. Our message is that Christ is present in the Eucharist. Our message is that God is alive and in our midst. This powerful message is not being preached any near as well as the Communists are preaching their message that is void of any relationship with the Divine. Communism is officially an atheistic doctrine.
Right now the very message we are celebrating is the reason why Catholics throughout the world especially in China and Vietnam, North Korea and other nations are suffering for their faith. They embrace the Eucharist. They embrace Christ. They preach Christ and for this they are imprisoned and tortured. Indeed, it is this message that makes us the subject of forms of bashing found on television programs and in political speeches right in our own country.
Father Laurence Jenco, one of the men taken hostage in the Lebanon in the 1980's used to talk about being chained to a pipe in a dark room for two years. His captors would feed him sandwiches. Fr. Jenco as a priest would consecrate the bread so that he knew God was present with him in his captivity. This gave him great strength. This also strengthened AP reporter Terry Anderson with whom Fr. Jenco was held captive. This is the power of the Eucharist. In our service, we embrace that power or we will serve as the communists do. We are not communists.
Our service must be prayer focused. We must be people of the mass. The more we serve the closer we must be to the sacraments, the more we must study the bible and the more we must seek to do God's will. Let us never do what we think is God's will, let us be rooted enough in prayer that we are doing God's will.
There is a call for a protest strike on May 1st in light of immigration legislation. I am going to call you not to participate. Why? It is true that such strikes are what helped bring down the Soviet Union, but they were not with Communists they were against Communists. These strikes will be with Communists and they will enforce the concept of the godless vision of service.
Jesus told you how to protest. He said not to do less, but more. It is essential that you consider that. May 1st is the day the Communists celebrate the dictatorship of the workers. However, May 1st is the day the Church celebrates St. Joseph the Worker. If you want to protest on May 1st, do not stop working, work more. If possible, work through your lunch period and consider donating some or all of the money your earned that day in a way that will improve the life of another, even for just a day. The people need to know that service to others rooted in the mind of Christ is radically different than service to others that rejects Christ. Go to mass and we need to consider whether it is a day to have an early mass for those who will be working that day.
There is precedence for this. Jesuit Priest Father Walter Czizek spent fifteen years in a Soviet Prison system suffering for his faith. While there he was sent to the Gulags in Siberia where the environment is terribly cold and hostile to human survival. These were slave labor camps where prisoners were forced to build Siberian communities for the Russian government. The prisoners there felt they needed to do poor work in order to protest their plight. Fr. Czizek was different. He realized that since work was blessed by God that the work he was doing, although as a slave in a hostile environment to a government hostile to Christ and his Church, needed to be considered work he was doing for God. His slave labor was not poor quality work, but the best quality work he could do for that reason. He also took his time set aside to eat lunch to sneak off and celebrate mass in secret, a an act outlawed in the Gulags.
So it is with us. The days of the Catholic being like everyone else except that we go to Church on Sunday must now come to an end. We must live our faith in a radically new way, one that takes the mindset of Christ and connects it to our service to others. It must be rooted in the Eucharist that we celebrate tonight and it must be filled with the vision of Christ. Otherwise we will be like everyone else or worse, we will be seen as those who reject God and whose message is like that of the Communists: God is dead. He is not. Indeed, this weekend we celebrate the fact that He is very much alive. It is our duty to proclaim that message day in and day out, in season and out of season. That message must come first if we are truly to believe we are in service to Christ.
http://www.revrobertjcarr.com MA, US
Fr. Robert J. Carr - Priest, 617 230-3300
Holy Thursday, Boston, Communists, Catholic, Immigration, Powerline
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