Readings for 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time: PRV 9:1-6; PS 34:2-7; EPH 5: 15-20; JN 6:56
Ironically, I felt some relief at last week's horrendous revelations about the 300 Pennsylvania priests who sexually victimized more than 1000 children and young people over the last 70 years. The relief was similar to what I feel each day now as President Trump spews his venomous lies and implements his cruel policies to restore "America" to its good old days before the post-World II achievements of blacks, women, gays, immigrants, and social justice advocates.
I mean, the veils have finally been pulled back in both politics and religion. In this Sunday homily, though, it's the latter that will be my focus, since I want to connect today's Gospel reading with the priesthood and pedophilia.
Let me begin, however, with politics and its scandals that mirror and illuminate those of the church.
Politically, the deceits of Donald Trump have done us all a huge favor. They've forced us to face what our presidents, teachers, and media enablers have been doing undeniably for centuries. What Mr. Trump is doing, they all have done. The only difference is that Trump's predecessors didn't admit it all so openly. But they've all lied to us about wars, elections, American ideals, and about their personal lives.
For instance, in the light of Mr. Trump, it's now indisputable that the entire Republican Party is corrupt just like him. (The Democrats are not far behind.) By endorsing his racism, they reveal their own racism. They all routinely lie; they enrich themselves at public expense; they practice nepotism; they break laws, dishonor the Constitution, care only about their rich donors, and don't give a damn about the rest of us.
The voting system is rigged against us. Republicans don't even want everyone to vote. Mitch McConnell's refusal to follow constitutional precedent after the death of Antonin Scalia, hypocritically stacked the Supreme Court in favor of corporations. For that reason, the Court's subsequent decisions should all be suspect.
In other words, every branch of government -- including the Fourth Estate -- has been corrupted. As a result, we're living in something like the Soviet Union, where NOTHING the government or media says can be taken at face value. (In fact, it never should have been.) Thank you, Donald Trump, for making all of that indisputable! It frees us up to work for outright revolution.
It's the same with the Catholic Church, with Protestants not far behind. The widespread pedophilia among the clergy reveals that the faithful have been duped by the very people we were taught to trust as God's representatives. (If there were at least 300 pedophilic priests in one state, how many have there been in the other 49?) All priests and former priests are now under suspicion.
And the hell of it is that these were the very teachers whose principal moral obsessions centered on sexual morality! They worried us about impure thoughts, pornography, masturbation, homosexuality, petting, fornication, adultery, birth control, abortion, and divorce. At least since Augustine, they have made us all feel guilty about the second strongest drive (after self-preservation) that humans possess (i.e. propagation of the species). In the confessional, we told them of our most intimate failings in that area. And they shared their sage advice on how to overcome them. These sex-obsessed "celibates" even advised couples about their married lives.
Could we have been more deceived? And what made all of that possible?
Those questions bring me to today's Gospel selection whose content has traditionally be used by the Catholic Church to persuade the faithful that priests have quasi-magical powers. According to Catholic teaching, priests can change little wafers into the actual body of Christ. They can change wine into his blood. Similarly, in the confessional, their words can remove sin and open the gates of heavenly after-life to those who would otherwise be condemned to eternity in hell.
Can you imagine anything more powerful than that? No wonder priests were revered, and their faults, sins, and crimes overlooked!
More specifically, in today's third reading, John the Evangelist has Jesus say
"Amen, amen, I say to you . . my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him."