In the Face of Scandal, the Church Needs Our Yes | 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Homily for the 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time
5 August 2018
Cathedral of St. Raymond Nonnatus and Sacred Heart


Hi, everyone:
My name is Fr. Ryan Adorjan
and I am madly in love
with the person of Jesus Christ.

If anybody wants to talk about that,
call me.

I’m a priest, and I’m in love with Jesus Christ,
I am far from perfect, in so many ways.

In the past couple of weeks,
the American Church has watched a scandal develop,
a scandal that has been largely ignored by the mass media.
Implicated, this time, is not a parish priest,
but an ecclesial powerhouse,
former-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick,
Archbishop Emeritus of Washington D.C.

This scandal, like all the others, began with the publication
of those harrowing, gut-wrenching words:
that an accusation of sexual abuse of a minor had been deemed
“credible and substantiated.”

I know the history of this parish,
because of I have read it and heard it,
but I have not lived it.
I acknowledge that you, the people,
know it better than me because you lived it,
and were hurt by it,
and are healing from it.

And I am your father now,
and there are certain things that I want you to know.

The first is that I am sorry.
I’m sorry for the actions of my brother priests,
of those men we all trusted and who have let us down
in the most egregious ways.

I’m sorry for the ways,
less extreme to be sure,
that my own sinfulness has harmed my ministry here.
I am called to be Christ for you,
but I am still subjected to the same struggle of sin
as everyone else.

The second is that I love you very much.
I love the goodness I see you,
the Truth I have found in you,
and the beauty I witness in you
on a daily basis.

And because I love you, I must tell you:
I feel very strongly that the Father
with Jesus his Son,
through the power of the Holy Spirit
has brought his Church to a familiar fork in the road,
and the way we choose to walk has possibly cosmic ramifications.

The days of being Catholic because I was raised Catholic are over.
The days of being Christian because Christianity is simply an ethical system
of being nice to others are over.
The days of tailoring our own brand of Catholicism to fit the needs of our time and place and views and preferences are over.

We are not called to follow a system, rules, guidelines, but a person.
We come to know about him through books, talks, homilies, encounters with other people;
but we come know HIM precisely by doing what he told us: “Take up your cross, and follow me.”

“We have to follow what the Lord continues to give us through what He causes to happen in front of our eyes…facing life determined by a presence that becomes more familiar with every circumstance.” (Carron)

“To believe that one becomes a Christian
through the proper philosophy, theology, spirituality, morality, or cultural project,
is a presumption;
it is to see our efforts as the cause of our belonging to Christ.
Instead, we become Christians because the [Christ has appreared] in history,
because [Christ lived our life, and died our death, and rose from the dead],
because [Christ sent us his Spirit, precisely as he promised he would],
and because those events continue to happen in the world today.
They happen now because they happened then
and because the Church exists in the world
as the life of a communion of persons created by these events,
and making them present today through the sacraments.
They happen because Christ has risen from the dead
and can be encountered today with exactly the same results
experienced by Andrew, James, John, Peter, Mary Magdalene,
the Samaritan woman, the man born blind, Zaccheus, and the criminal at the cross next
to His. Something happened to them.
It was an event.
The key to the Christian life, the point of departure,
is not an intellectual or cultural proposal.
It is this event.” (Lorenzo Albacete)

In other words, a truly Christian life
is one in which a person
has truly come to know Jesus
in the everydayness of his or her life.
It is a life in which everything, from major life choices to the smallest decisions,
are subject to the question, “is this what Jesus wants? Is this where Jesus is leading me?”

How can we know that we are really following him?
The hundredfold: [Jesus says] “Everyone who follows me will receive a hundredfold in this life.”;

Not “the hundredfold” that we imagine, because what Jesus will do to our lives
is so much more than we can imagine, “it’s without measure.”

But the hundredfold is the test:
“Verify whether, in following Him,
you are happier, freer, more capable of a life that is not a lament;
you are able to face every circumstance, whether beautiful or ugly,
with an ultimate positivity.” (Carron)

We spend so much of our time believing that all Jesus is asking of us
is to go out and be nice.
That’s important, but it’s about so much more than that.
To go out and ensure only social justice, only good manners, only please-and-thank yous,
is to work for food that perishes.

But the food that Jesus gives us, the way he is asking us to live,
the gifts he wishes to give us
this is food that endures to eternal life.

So they said to him,

“What can we do to accomplish the works of God?”
Jesus answered and said to them,
“This is the work of God, that you believe in the one he sent.” 

That every part of you believes in him.
That every part of your life screams JESUS;
That everything you do, and everything you say
breathes into the world something new.
That people will know that there is something different about you
simply because a new kind of gladness appears on your face.

So much of the nonsense in our Church
is built on the foundation of mediocrity.
That there are so many people who believe that simply
coming here and sitting/standing/kneeling here
means they are a Christian.

The nonsense of our sinfulness finds its root in the fact
that so many of us, me included,
have not given a definitive “YES” to Christ and to his Church.
We’ve tried to change the Church, to make it what we think it should be,
when really it’s Christ, THROUGH his Church,
who should be changing us to make us into who he created us to be.

We look around and we see scandal
because somehow those who have not said YES,
and who, in many ways, have given their resounding “NO”
have fallen.

The Church needs our YES.
Jesus Christ needs our YES.

He needs our YES in order to do anything in the world.
Through our YES, hope enters the world in the smallest ways.
“The more I say “yes” to Christ,
the more I see little openings for my own creativity
and opportunities to love humanity
starting with my own family, co-workers and the people I encounter day by day.
I give my little “yes” freely, with the hope that the
One who redeems everything
will use it to enter the world.” (“My Country Needs My Yes”, CL)

Your YES will not look radical
according to the world’s definition of what’s radical.
It will look small, it will look simple,
in other words, it will look like Christ.
It will look like taking a break from the game and helping with bedtime;
it will look like telling someone that their hard work is noticed and matters;
it will look like taking the extra shift,
or some extra time off, whichever your family needs more.

It will look like deleting the apps that cause you to sin,
like walking away from gossip and malice and bad jokes.

It will look like opening a bible and beginning to read it;
it will look like regular, consistent prayer.
It will look like regular confession and true contrition for our sin,
and it will look like Mass.

So they said to him,
“What sign can you do, that we may see and believe in you?
What can you do?
Our ancestors ate manna in the desert, as it is written.”
So Jesus said to them,
“Amen, amen, I say to you,
it was not Moses who gave the bread from heaven;
my Father gives you the true bread from heaven.
For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven
and gives life to the world.”
So they said to him,
“Sir, give us this bread always.”
Jesus said to them,
“I am the bread of life;
whoever comes to me will never hunger,
and whoever believes in me will never thirst.”


You will not find life,
you will not find gladness, you will not find hope, you will not find a remedy for your fear,

From anywhere but here. From anyone but him.

When will we say
“enough is enough”?
I can’t go back in time to change the behavior of the people who have hurt you, who have hurt us.
But as a Christian man, as your brother, and as your father, a priest:
I can give you, again, my YES.
I can give this parish, again, my YES.
I can give the Church of God, so wounded and toiled, again, my YES.

I can, and do, and try, to give Jesus, again, my YES.

May the Eucharist, the bread of life, which we will receive from this table
remain our bond of unity and source of charity.
May it be the strength that each of one of us needs
to abandon mediocrity,
to embrace the possibility of the hundredfold,
to turn to Christ and to beg him,
“Sir, give us this bread always!”

More than anything, may we find the courage to give ourselves permission,
finally, finally, to give him, again, our YES.

Hi, everyone.

My name is Fr. Ryan Adorjan,
and I am madly in love
with the person of Jesus Christ.

If anybody wants to talk about that,
call me.

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