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Litlte Rock, Arkansas
July 11, 1998     Arkansas Catholic
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July 11, 1998
 

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CATHOLIC July 11, 1998 Page 11 .... : !~i~:?!:7:!~:~::izi~i~! , , i~ili}}~::i : i :: ~i~i~} presided at arid the Tomb ;, June 16, I found on my telephone. Slattery, chairman of Re- ~~|P0n X, had asked Archbishop Daniel V hlein to be the principal celebrant for i~~,!:-Q~. Mass at the Tomb of St. Paul. The i[ |~,~biShop realized that this would be my Ii.m"ut ad Ill"mind visit. He suggested that I ' i.Pt ide and preach I consented. I have aSlJlil in Arkansas for 26 years, but I am ,d ~ ~ ~0 rival to my predecessors -- four in ~ii~..~,ber they have served 129 years -- x:~t~op Andrew Byrne, Bishop Edward IS ~ el ral " . ll l,tzge d, Bishop John Morris, Bishop "'i]~|'_u.~rt Fletcher In May, I was 50 years Or ' . ' . t~l | .~ed which oualified me for at least a i . ;:. . y P P P . [~., ~-'en the most profound, nor have }J been the widest One asoect of my I rues me to -preside and to preach am the best lookin bisho around child, "Before your mother con- you -- before you were born -- I I have loved you. I have by name." When the baby was said, "This child is bone flesh of our flesh. This child called Saul." Tarsus of Cilicia, no mean city, was his 'unknown god.' That's the God I represent." birthplace. He grew "We'll hear you another time." up knowing, living, Paul was a letter writer, 13 letters -- Ro- proclaiming the mans, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, law. His zeal for the Philippians, Colossians, 2 Thessalonians, 2 law provoked vio- to Timothy, 1 to Titus, 1 to Philemon. lence towards those Paul was a poet: Love is patient; love is who were followers kind; love does not envy; it is not preten- of the New Way. tious; it is not puffed up; not ambitious; not And God said, self-seeking. Love, kindness never fail. There "Let's harness this are three --- faith, hope and love, but the energy. Let's recre- Bishop Andrew J. greatest of these is love. ate him. Let's Paul was not one of the twelve. He was ,, McDonald change his name. born out of due time. He is the 13th apostle. "Sad, breathing threats of slaughter against Paul to Corinthians tells us who he is as the disciples of the Lord, went to the high apostle and evangelizer: We carry this trea- priest and asked him for letters to the syna- sure in vessels of clay, to show that the abun- gogues at Damascus, that if he found any dance of the power is God's and not ours. man or woman belonging to this Way, he In all things, we suffer tribulations, but we might bring them in bonds to Jerusalem. are not distressed; we are sore pressed, but Suddenly a light from heaven shown round we are not destitute; we endure persecution, about him. "Saul, Saul, why do you perse- but we are not forsaken; we are cast down, cute me?" "Who are you, Lord?" "I am Jesus but we do not perish; always bearing about whom you are persecuting." "Lord, what will in our body, the dying of Jesus, so that the you have me do? .... Arise and go into the life also of Jesus, may be made manifest in city and it will be told to you what to do." our bodily frame. For us, the living are con- For three days, Saul was blinded. He neither stantly being handed over to death for Jesus' ate nor drank. Ananias lifted the scales from sake that the life of Jesus may be made Saul's eyes. God gave him the name "Paul." manifest in our mortal flesh. Paul was on fire for Jesus. He is the evan- Paul vigorously defends his call, his apos- gelizer of all times. He preached Jesus Christ tolic mission (2 Corinthians). "Let no one in season and out of season. Unlike the corn- think me foolish. I am not speaking accord- bat veterans, Paul wore no medals. Like com- ing to the Lord, but as it were in foolishness bat veterans, his heroics are the stuff of leg- ... I too will boast ... Are they Hebrews? So end. "Kilroy was there." "Paul was there" -- am I! Are they Israelites? So am I! Are they Antioch, Athens, Jerusalem, Seleucia, offspring of Abraham? So am I! Are they Salamis, Paphos, Perga, Pamphylia, Iconium, ministers of Christ? I speak as a fool. I am Lystra, Derbe, Rome. more, many more labors, in prisons more Paul was courageous over the issue of cir- frequently, in lashes above measure, often cumcision. He confronted Peter. His com- exposed to death. Five times I was scourged, panions are heroes ~ saints in their own once I was stoned, thrice ship-wrecked -- a right -- Barnabas, Timothy, Titus, Silas, night and a day adrift on the sea; in jour- now household names of our faith. In Ath- neying often, in perils from floods, in perils ens -- Paul was creative -- "You worship from robbers... Besides all these outer things, many gods. You even have a tablet to the there is my daily pressing anxiety, the care of all the churches! Who is weak and I am not weak? Who is made to stumble and I ,i:: am not' inflamed? If I must boast, I will boast of the things that concern my weak- mess." On this day, Thursday, June 25, 1998, we come to the tomb of Paul. Like Paul, our names are added to the apostles: Eusebius, Edmond, Joseph, David, Joseph, Thomas, Patrick, Joseph, Roberto, Curtis, ::: Andrew, Raymundo, Michael, Placido, :: Charles, Edward, James, John, Patrick, John, David. ! ..... In our archdioceses, ir~ our dioceses, like Paul, our names are scribbled into the hearts, minds of our people. You name it, we have been there. Our ministry extends from 36 years down to less than a year. Only in letter writing have we done bet- ter than Paul. He did 13. We have done thousands. To some degree, we can iden tify with Paul in his labors. There are times when we are courageous, when we are joy- ful, when we are sad. Constantly, we stand with our people in their struggle to put on the Lord Jesus. In our archdioceses, dioceses, we preach Jesus Christ crucified. We offer Jesus in sacrifice; we feed our people with Jesus, the Bread which gives everlasting life. Daily, we minister to our priests, deacons, religious, lay people. Daily, we try to be men of prayer, men of faith, of hope, of love. Daily, we try to be joyful, kind, :.i~ merciful. We come today to the tomb of the greatest evangelizer -- the Tomb of St. Paul. Not in a boastful sense do we come. ~!: "Hey, look us over. See how great we are. Witness the fruits of our labor." No, we come to face the awesome reality: Jesus if: has called us to be priests, bishops, evan- gelizers. Jesus has called us to preach, to offer sacrifice, to be holy. Paul, apostle, evangelizer, saint, pray for us. here in this sacred place, I Cannot help but recall another time sacred place. I had taken a ,ilgrimage to Lourdes. When large underground basilica people were truly impressed. these people were Oklahoma I could tell by their reaction that were especially impressed. WOnder ~ the size, the grandeur and itself is truly awesome. There- asked one of them, "What do you ~qithout blinking an eye, he re- he pointed to a fellow farmer. "I he said, 'How many bales of you think this place could hold?'" was not irreverent. It was sin- his particular background Catholic bishops of the Church, a perspective and so do our priests and indeed all our people. We deal with the Mys- tery of the Church, which we cannot fully fathom and often do not ad- equately appreci- ate. We see and understand from different perspec- tives from our own background, personality and Archbishop Emebim J. Sdtraa particular interest. It is good therefore for us to come together for this ad limina visit and to begin here at the Tomb of St. Peter. St. Peter, the divinely selected Vicar of Christ, had his own unique perspective, in the Gospels we frequently hear Jesus cor- recting that perspective and building up Peter in faith so that Peter could later sup- port his brothers in their faith. The present Vicar of Christ, Pope John Paul II, continues that same good work. his faith, he inspires us and supports us in our own episcopal ministry. Like Peter then, we too must learn not to rely on our own talents or merits but on the grace of God and our faith in Jesus Christ. The long history of the Church led by St. Peter and now John Paul II should en- able us to adjust our own perspective and realize that it is not our personal church, but the Church of Jesus Christ. It is not our will that should be fulfilled but His will be done. We are not the Savior. We are the saved. Intellectually we know all this but some- times we are overwhelmed and emotionally distraught. Look at the problems we face: 1. The declining number of priests, 2. The increasing difficulties of our priests and other key personnel, 3. The horrendous lawsuits we pay, 4. The bad publicity we receive, 5. The financial pressures and a host of other serious problems which arise daily. Human effort and intuition are unable to surmount these. Yet we cannot allow such obstacles to lead us to frustration or sacred place, as we begin our ad limina visit with the celebration of the Holy Eu- charist, we are united to Jesus through Peter and Paul, through John XXIII and John Paul II. And Peter's great profes- sion of faith recounted in yesterday's and today's Gospel should be our enthusias- ! tic response to Jesus. "Thou are the Christ, the Son of the living God." Perhaps the most succinct way of ex- pressing this type of faith in the midst of calamity and uncertainty is found in the words of St. Thomas More whom the i!i Church commemorates today. In the let- ter to his daughter, Margaret, after re- counting his final crisis, he goes on to say: "Therefore, my own good daughter, do not let your mind be troubled over anything that shall happen to me in this world. Nothing can come but what God wills. And I am very sure that whatever that be, however bad it may seem, it shall i indeed be the best. What a wonderful meditation for us bishops gathered around this altar as we celebrate this stupendous Mystery of By his words, by his example and through despair or cynicism. Rather, here in this Faith. : ~ ~ : ........ ~ ~, ~r~i~,,~:~~:~ ~ ........... ~,,~,:, :~ ~, ,~ ..............