Christ is the Answer
Here in the Diocese of Oakland, our new bishop, Salvatore Cordileone, was installed today at a mass at the Cathedral of Christ the Light. Although my office overlooks the cathedral, I was unable to attend due to the demands of my job. However, I was able to enjoy the text of my new bishop’s homily.
Two things about the homily particularly pleased me. The first was its robust–and welcome–invocation of Christ as the answer to the human question. The second was the way that he used the image of “hospitality” to weave together a number of the Church’s social concerns that our nation’s politics generally divide:
In God’s inscrutable plan, for me this means that, in a sense, I return to where I began. It was close to one-hundred years ago that my grandparents came from Sicily and settled across the bay (before moving down to San Diego some years later), where my grandfather established his fishing trade. Like countless others, they labored under the hardship of immigrants – a new land, with a different language and different customs, struggling to be accepted and to fit in. Yet, somehow they found a welcome, and were able to make a better life for themselves.
Of course, much has changed since then. It seems our nation has become a much less welcoming place, even, sometimes, downright inhospitable: unwelcoming to the countless new strangers seeking to come to this land to make a better life for themselves and enrich the lives of us all; unwelcoming toward those who may place a burden on us because they are terminally ill or otherwise “unproductive”; unwelcoming toward those who could be given a chance to prove themselves capable of repentance and rehabilitation for their crimes, and instead eliminating them from society; worst of all, a land that shows itself all too often unwelcoming toward the most defenseless of our brothers and sisters who are not even given a chance to be born, and so are eliminated from society even before they see the light of day. This inhospitality, this hostility, creates a tsunami of moral and physical violence which leaves countless damaged and destroyed lives in its wake – moral and physical violence which, as recent events have tragically shown, hits very close to home here in Oakland.
This is not what God has created us for. Jesus makes that abundantly clear in the gospel for today’s Mass: “that my joy might be in you and your joy might be complete.” He created us for joy. That is why he gives us the commandment to love one another, and teaches and models what love really is; that is the only way to the joy he wills for us. In other words, love cannot be separated from the truth. As Pope Benedict teaches us in his Encyclical God is Love, Christ’s death on the cross is “love its most radical form” (n. 12), and it is only through a life of fidelity to God that one can experience this radical love of God and thereby discover “joy in truth and in righteousness – a joy in God which becomes [the individual’s] essential happiness” (n. 9). This, then, is why St. Paul exhorts us in his Letter to the Ephesians to live the truth in love. Let us not be tricked by the imposters, which reduce love to a commodity and relativizethe truth out of existence. Yes, we are now reaping the very bad, very strange fruit of counterfeit love and the trashing of the truth of who we are and are called to be as human persons.
Christ is the answer. Let us draw near to him, and abide in him, so that we will not be tossed about by the waves of deception and swept along by the teachings of destructive imposters. This means that we must claim Jesus Christ as our only ruler; it means that we place ourselves completely under his dominion. Let there be no doubt: if, as his Church, we are to be his faithful bride, it means that Jesus Christ must have dominion over every aspect of our life.
Please join me in praying for the success of Bishop Cordileone’s episcopal ministry in this diocese.