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Lord, have mercy on us all Print E-mail
Sunday scripture column

Kevin Perrotta

Sunday, Sept. 30
Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Nm 11:25-29
Psalm 19:8, 10, 12-14
Jas 5:1-6
Mk 9:38-43, 45, 47-48








There it is, right in the middle of today's Gospel -- the statement we might consider God's particular word to the Church in our time: "Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were put around his neck and he were thrown into the sea" (Mk 9:42).

It is not easy to encounter this word in the Mass.

We come to Mass to draw close to the Lord. We listen to the Scripture readings for their message to us, ourselves, not for what they might say to anyone else. Jesus' warning should spur me to review how I myself have given bad example to the children in my life.

But what now rivets my attention when this text is read is what others have done -- what some who wore clerical collars did to children, and how others with clerical collars concealed those acts.

We come to Mass to find God's peace, yet this text makes me seethe.

How outrageous that some who had the privilege of standing in the pulpit and proclaiming these very words went off and did terrible things to children, while others went to their offices and covered up these enormities with bureaucratic dexterity and an attitude of institutional and personal self-preservation!

I am afraid the Gospel text leaves me derailed. Will I go on through the rest of Mass thinking about the evils of clericalism and feeling my powerlessness to change this situation, rather than listening to the homily and paying attention to the prayers? Probably.

So now I am preparing for Mass with a special litany. "For myself, that I would accept the grace to think about my own sins: Lord, have mercy."

"For those who have been abused, and their families, that they would find healing in you: Lord, have mercy."

"For the ordained celebrants of this liturgy everywhere: Lord, have mercy."

"For priests who violated children and the bishops who have failed us: Lord, have mercy."

"Lord, have mercy." "Lord, have mercy." "Lord, have mercy."


Kevin Perrotta is the editor and an author of the Six Weeks with the Bible series (Loyola Press), teaches part time at Siena Heights University, and leads Holy Land pilgrimages. He lives in Ann Arbor, Mich.

 
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