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Official Website of the
Catholic Diocese of Little Rock
Published: August 9, 2014
Bishop Anthony B. Taylor preached the following homily for diocesan seminarians and their parents at the Cathedral of St. Andrew in Little Rock on Saturday, Aug. 9, 2014.
One of the things that I have learned as a priest and now even more as a bishop is the fact that, since we live in a world dominated by the power of evil, many times the good deeds we undertake have unintended negative consequences — and I have to take that into account before acting.
For instance, today we celebrate the feast of Edith Stein, known in religious life as St. Teresa Bendedicta of the Cross. She was a German Jew who converted to Catholicism, became a Carmelite nun in the 1930s and later was transferred to a convent in the Netherlands where the Nazis were not yet arresting Jewish Christians. But then in 1942, when the Dutch bishops spoke out publicly against the Nazi persecution of the Jews, the Nazis retaliated against their defiance by arresting all Jewish Catholics, whom they sent to the gas chambers. In the abstract, the bishops were right to condemn the Nazis, but sadly, they weren't the ones who ended up paying the price ... the negative consequences fell most heavily on the very people they were trying to help!
By contrast, Pope Pius XII was much more discrete and ended up saving many more lives than would have been possible otherwise, but today many with supposedly 20-20 hindsight judge him harshly because he didn't speak out as publicly as the Dutch bishops did. Which was the better approach? When faced with demonic evil, both drew on their faith and did what they believed the situation required.
Every one of you has been given the gift of faith and Jesus sends you forth to live that faith in a world dominated by evil.
In today's Gospel Jesus brings faith to bear on demonic evil, in this case a boy possessed by a demon. Like the Dutch bishops rebuking the Nazis, Jesus rebuked the demon ... but what happened next differed from what happened in the Netherlands in two respects:
You and I are called to have this kind of faith, even though we know that in this world our good deeds may well result in negative consequences. But that is the mystery of the cross!
Think of Father Rother who was as discrete as Pope Pius XII when it came to not saying anything publicly that might expose his people to the genocidal reprisals of the Guatemalan army, but his mere presence remaining with this flock when the wolf threatened spoke so powerfully that he had to pay for that good deed with his life. Think of Archbishop Romero who was as outspoken as the Dutch bishops and paid for that with his life like Jesus did. Which was the better approach? When faced with demonic evil, both drew on their faith and did what they believed the situation required.
Both of their causes of canonization are moving forward — in fact, the "positio" for the beatification of Father Rother, who has already been declared a servant of God, will be presented in Rome on Sept. 3 of this year. The same was true for those disciples who did not yet have faith sufficient to confront demonic evil successfully, but once they were empowered by the Holy Spirit on Pentecost, their faith had grown to at least the size of the mustard seed in today's Gospel because when they went forth to proclaim the Good News they set about moving mountains! And we are called to do the same ... and this message is not just for our seminarians!
Every one of you has been given the gift of faith and Jesus sends you forth to live that faith in a world dominated by evil, meaning that the good deeds you do may well have negative consequences, because Satan takes reprisal when his interests are threatened. Make sure that you act wisely so that the consequences fall on yourself rather than on those you are trying to help ... and then go forth, drawing on your faith to move mountains.