Seventh Day within the Octave of the Nativity of the Lord
(I John 2:18-21; John 1:1-18)
Remember the movies where the Anti-Christ was pictured as a super-suave, very evil-intentioned man? He was revealed by the numbers “666” branded somewhere on his person. That’s Hollywood. In today’s first reading we find one of the four times “antichrist” is found in the Bible. The other three are also in the Letters of John. None describes a person of great evil. All refer to people who have left the author’s community. The situation is similar to what has happened throughout the two millennia of Christianity. There are examples of it taking place today as well.
Many people are deeply offended by the way the bishops have handled sexual abuse of minors. They are appalled of the cover-ups and the reassigning of molesters to other parishes. They certainly should expect behavior better than average by men who preach the gospel. The fact that errant priests were reassigned often with professional assurance that they were not likely to commit the same crimes again should contribute to understanding how such a scandal could have arisen. Fortunately, it must be said now, the abuse and certainly reassignment are phenomena of the past. A system of checks has been put into place to assure the protection of minors.
Some, whose faith is shaky, may have found in clergy abuse an excuse to leave the Church. Hopefully, they will see the light and come back. The light here is not some celestial luminary. It is Christ himself. He left the ongoing work of redemption in the hands of imperfect men. Although by and large the men and women working in the name of the Church have sacrificed themselves for others, some have failed. As we end one year and begin a new one, we pray that their sins may be repented and forgiven. We also ask God’s help that such crimes will never blemish the Church again.