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By Fr. Paul Kalchik
Homily for Sept. 2, 2018
Today's Gospel focuses in upon the Pharisees and our Lord's harsh words for them as you just heard: "You disregard God's commandments but cling to mere human tradition." The Pharisees of Jesus' time were well known for putting on a show, in how they dressed and in how they talked, but all the while they were not known for their holiness.
Their religion was built upon seeking and receiving the adulation of their peers, and not upon the worship of God. And as time has shown, this sect of super-Jewish Jews totally died out, and now, not much is known about them, other than what Saint Paul tells us, as he was one before his conversion. Blessedly, the old Pharisees disappeared in due time, but lamentably, the twisted psychological Pharisaical dynamic, of putting on a show of being faithful, a pretense of the Faith, in order to receive human adulation continues in this fallen world.
And as the events of the last weeks in August played out, the Church itself is going through convulsions in ridding itself of today's Pharisees in the attempt to purify itself. For myself as a priest and a pastor for many years now, these convulsions and this period of purification has been long overdue.
Case in point, a couple of years back, the boys that run the show downtown were on my back because one of our catechists, a retired teacher, and at this point in time, an infirm, little but holy lady, had missed out on VIRTUS training because she was sick on the day we offered it. This woman was as far removed from being a serial sex abuser as Saint Teresa of Calcutta. Blessedly, at the time the downtown "enforcers" were throwing their weight around, Cdl. Francis George was still alive and I appealed to him directly to call off the dogs.
If you wish to see the letter I received from the archdiocesan office of Protecting All God's Children, I will gladly show it to you, to say their tactics were over the top is an understatement. Their focus has been off for a long time. It's reminiscent of the tactics of the Transportation Security Administration who make a show of aggressively patting down a poor grandma in a wheelchair just to prove that nothing is going to get past them — yeah, right.
So "thanks be to God," we find ourselves in a period of purification. Please pray, please fast. Paraphrasing Jesus in Matthew 12:43–45, "Pray that this demon, once exorcized, does not come back, after cruising the arid wastes, bringing with him seven more, making things even worse than before."
As our long Church history has shown us, few betrayers of Christ are like Judas, who came to some sense of remorse and exited out of his own accord. Most stick around and wreak havoc for as long as they possibly can. Arrogant narcissists do not give up power easily. And quoting a very cutting reflection by Anglican priest Rev. Dr. Jules Gomes on the current scandal, "The lust for power and the power of lust, are often intertwined."
What, you might be wondering, do the faithful remnant need to do today? Firstly, pray, pray for the strength to remain faithful during these trying times, but also for the restoration of an orthodox Roman Catholic Church, and not some denigrated semblance of it run by some bad bishops.
The focus must always be on bringing people to Christ and saving souls. We cannot let the current troubles keep us from our mission to go make more disciples for the Lord, nor should modern day distractions like global warming, LGBT "rights" or even immigration issues ever take precedence over that mission.
Secondly, please take to heart my advice given this past week to fast and pray for this period of 40 days. Fill out a pledge card today, if you have not done so. As Jesus said repeatedly in the course of his active ministry, "Some demons are only exorcised by fasting and prayer." Let's fast, let's pray and God the Holy Spirit will purify the Church and restore it to holiness and orthodoxy.
Postscript: On Saturday, Sept. 29, the Feast of Ss. Michael, Gabriel and Raphael, we will burn, in front of church, the rainbow flag that was unfortunately hanging in our sanctuary during the ceremonial first Mass as Resurrection parish. We will also burn our pledge cards and prayerfully sing Psalm 141: "Let my prayer arise before you like incense, my hands like an evening offering."