A priest on Christmas and Newtown, courtesy of Maureen Dowd
The New York Times' Maureen Dowd, who usually aims the sharp end of her columnist's pen toward the failures of Catholic clergy, lifts up one of the good guys today, a family friend named Father Kevin. Father Kevin, whom Dowd credits with a special gift for ministry with the dying, has another gift that we might wish for all who minister in the church's name. He speaks for himself, when reflecting on his 30 years of ministry: "I do not expect to have all the answers, nor do I believe that people are really looking for them." More like him, please.
It's been noted often but it's worth saying again: For all the bishops guilty of criminal negligence, for every self-important cleric, every inept and underprepared minister (lay and ordained), there are a dozen people of faith and good will who unfailingly accompany not only the church of Christ but the whole people of God (everyone) on our common pilgrim journey toward wherever God is leading us, those who, in Father Kevin's words are ready to leap "into the chaos of another" and help name the ways God is still working in a terribly broken world.
So while so many other church folk go on about secularization or sex or religious liberty, I'll spend some time with Father Kevin's hopeful reflection on the meaning of Christmas: "Christmas is really a celebration of the mercy of God who entered the chaos of our world in the person of Jesus, mercy incarnate. I have never found it easy to be with people who suffer, to enter into the chaos of others. Yet, every time I have done so, it has been a gift to me, better than the wrapped and ribboned packages. I am pulled out of myself to be love’s presence to someone else, even as they are love’s presence to me."