Jenkins, McCormick preside at mass for natural disaster victims
Tom Naatz | Tuesday, October 31, 2017
University President Fr. John Jenkins presided at a Mass held at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart on Monday to pray for victims of the many natural disasters that have affected North America since August of this year, including Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, the wildfires in California and earthquakes in Mexico. Director of campus ministry Fr. Pete McCormick delivered the homily.
In welcoming members of the community to the Mass, Jenkins encouraged the congregation to keep in mind those who have been affected by the disasters.
“Today, in a special way, we’re going to pray for victims, for all those suffering through the many natural disasters that have afflicted this part of the world in Texas, in Florida, Puerto Rico and the Caribbean islands and the … destructive fires in California,” Jenkins said. “Many people … have suffered because of these terrible disasters. We want to keep them in our prayers and pray for their needs.”
McCormick opened his homily with a discussion of Saint Paul’s letter to the Romans, and he said the epistle describes a choice that God gives to the world.
“Saint Paul reminds those reflecting on these sacred texts that God does not see us as his slaves, men and women forced into action, compelled to act in one way or another,” McCormick said. “Rather, God draws us in in the most convincing way possible: the invitation to a relationship. To know God, to love God and, after having recognized … all God is to us, to serve God.”
McCormick said it is important for people to reflect on what this “invitation” means so they can ultimately figure out how they will follow God. Referring again to the ideas of Saint Paul, McCormick said humans must suffer with and emulate Christ so that they may be glorified with him.
“We know the story of Jesus,” McCormick said. “We know his life, we know his death, we know his Resurrection. We know that due to his love of this world, God sent us his only son. That God sent us his only son to be like us in all things but sin; to call us out from the darkness; to allow us to recognize that we are made in God’s image and likeness. But this generous act … could not occur simply with a mere wave of a hand, but requires … tender acts of love, of prayer and, sometimes, of hardship.”
McCormick then quoted the thoughts of Dorothy Day, a prominent figure of the Catholic Worker’s Movement, on compassion. McCormick used Day’s words and the Gospel reading to demonstrate the true nature of compassion.
“How do I make a difference?” McCormick said. “How do I make a difference when I see an entire city underwater? How do I make a difference when I see an island completely and utterly devastated? How do I make a difference when I watch acre … after acre burn? How do I make a difference when I see a large, major city in rumbles, in ruins?”
McCormick described the great compassion exhibited by Jesus towards the crippled woman in the gospel story, noting the “ridicule” he drew for healing her. Because Jesus was able to alleviate her burden, McCormick said, he created an opportunity to glorify God.
“My brothers and sisters, in case you have not noticed, none of us are Jesus,” McCormick said. “But … we have someone to follow in Jesus. Someone who is willing to embrace suffering because he believed in his passion to transform. One who believed that the way to go about that suffering is by compassion entering into the lives of others.”
In closing, McCormick referenced the Resurrection to demonstrate that hardship is not forever.
“The cross of suffering is not the final the stage,” he said. “The cross of suffering is just the warm up for the Resurrection.”
After the Mass, McCormick said in crafting his message, he thought about concrete actions people can take that relieve suffering.
“What I’m always trying to accomplish in these moments is, ‘What’s one thing I can do when I leave?’” he said. “Everyone can show compassion to another person. Can you imagine if every single person in this church tonight goes out and exhibits exactly the type of compassion that Dorothy Day talked about in the quote? It makes a huge difference, right? Not many of us will be able to swing a hammer to rebuild Puerto Rico, but all of us can show compassion.”