AMDG Installation Homily JMJ
April 15, 2009
“This is the day the Lord has made!
Let us rejoice and be glad! Alleluia!”
“He has risen as He said, alleluia! alleluia!”
“Jesus Christ yesterday and today, the beginning and the end,
Alpha and Omega.
All time belongs to Him
and all the ages,
to Him be glory and power! Amen!”
You are all so very welcome here, in this “Cathedral of suitable magnificence,” as Archbishop John Hughes, whose cross I wear today, termed it, that has been such a warm, embracing spiritual home for untold millions.
Thank you, thank you all for so personally supporting me as I begin this apostolic ministry in the Archdiocese of New York.
Thank you, eminent cardinals, for by your presence you salute the vibrant Church in New York. A special appreciation to Cardinal William Baum, the dean of our American cardinals, Cardinal William Levada from Rome, Cardinal Marc Ouellet, Archbishop of Quebec City, and, of course, to Cardinal Edward Egan. Eminence, thank you for your leadership these past nine years, and, as the disciples on the road to Emmaus asked the Lord, please, “Stay with us!”
Archbishop Pietro Sambi, our papal nuncio, and Archbishop Celestino Migliore, papal nuncio to the United Nations;
My brother bishops, our beloved auxiliary bishops of the archdiocese, of the entire State of New York, from across the entire United States, and here even from Italy, Australia, Canada, Puerto Rico, and Ireland, whose fraternity means so much;
My cherished brother priests, especially those of this archdiocese, who now have a special claim on my heart;
deacons and seminarians;
consecrated women and men religious; distinguished representatives from other revered families of faith, respected civic and political leaders, special friends who have been so loyal to me from St. Louis, Rome, D.C., Kansas City and the wonderful archdiocese of Milwaukee . . . and all of God’s people, children of our one Father and brothers and sisters in the Lord…
Maybe I should not be so flattered that so many are here . . . after all, everybody wants to “take sanctuary on income tax day!”
My dear family . . . when I told Mom that Pope Benedict XVI had appointed me Archbishop of New York, I remarked, “Mom, whatever God gives me in life, His greatest gift to me is that I am Bob and Shirley Dolan’s son.” I mean that. And I’m so glad Mom is here this afternoon . . . especially because there’s a sale on at Macy’s!
Thank you all!
But, I hope you understand, as grateful as I am to all of you, there is another claim on my gratitude that towers above all the rest.
Above all, above all, I give praise to God, our Father, for raising His Son Jesus Christ from the dead! For “Christ is risen! He is truly risen! Give thanks to the Lord for He is good! For His mercy endures for ever!”
For this is not all about Timothy Dolan, or all about cardinals and bishops, or about priests and sisters, or even about family and cherished friends.
Nope . . . this is all about two people: Him and her . . . this is all about Jesus and His Bride, the Church. For, as de Lubac asked, “What would I ever know of Him without her?”
The Resurrection, Easter, is the very foundation of our faith, our hope, our love. Everything in the Church commences when, like those two disciples on the road to Emmaus that first Easter, we recognize Jesus as risen from the dead. The Church herself begins.
The Resurrection of Jesus is so central to our faith that we celebrate it every Sunday at Mass. On my first day as your archbishop I dream that we can reclaim Sunday as the Lord’s Day, anchored in our faithfulness to Sunday Mass, our weekly family meal with the risen Jesus.
In thanking God for the Resurrection of Christ, we thank God for the Church. For as “Jesus is the human face of God,” as Pope Benedict XVI often reminds us, the Church is the human face of Jesus.
For us as Catholics, Christ and His Church are one.
The triumph, the life, the light, the mercy, the raising up, the salvation which exploded Easter morning as Jesus rose from the dead continues in His Church, an extraordinary spiritual family that gathers men and women of every nation, race, language, and background into a breathing tapestry of faith.
The power of the risen Christ shows itself — Christ shows Himself! — in the extraordinary community that is the Church.
God’s love for us is so personal, so passionate, so intense that He gave His only begotten Son for our salvation. And when God the Father raised His Son from the dead, He put His divine seal of approval upon His work of art, the human project, on women and men made in His own image and likeness, washed clean by the blood of His Son on Good Friday, destined to spend eternity at His side, and assured us, “The evil, horror, lies, hate, suffering and death of last Friday will not prevail! Goodness, decency, truth, love, and life will have the last word.”
That’s the Easter message the Church is entrusted to live and to tell. For, believe it or not, the dying and rising of Jesus continues in His Church.
That’s the story of these extraordinary acres of the Lord’s vineyard of the Church we call the Archdiocese of New York. Now in her third century, the risen Christ has been and is alive here. Let me count some of the ways:
— In the welcome given to countless immigrants, like even my own great-great grandparents, who came and still do come to this country through this city with little or nothing of earthly value, but tenaciously clung to that “pearl of great price,” their faith, to find in the Church here the spiritual counterpart of Lady Liberty, Holy Mother Church, who welcomed them, embraced them, settled them in, taught their children, and kept that faith alive.
Spanish: Hoy agradecemos a Dios por la gracia de nuestros hermanos y hermanas Latinas, cuya presencia es una gran bendiciÃ³n en esta arquidiÃ³cesis. A ustedes, hermanos y hermanas, prometo dar mi amor, mi corazÃ³n, mi energÃa. Su fe CatÃ³lica, viva y fervorosa, es una luz para todos nosotros.
— The risen Christ is alive here in the Church in and through her priests. My brother priests: you are the apple of my eye! You mean everything to me. Without you, I can do nothing. In you I still see St. Isaac Joques, Venerable Felix Varela, Issac Hecker, Fighting Father Duffy, Fulton J. Sheen, Richard John Neuhaus, Avery Dulles; in you I see men who continue the power of the resurrection at the altar, in the confessional, in the classroom, with the sick, searching, and the poor. I have long admired you from afar, but today for the first time I can say, “my brother priests” of the Archdiocese of New York-my admiration, deep appreciation, and unflagging love to you;
–The Risen Christ is alive in her consecrated religious, women and men, in whom Elizabeth Ann Seton, Francis Xavier Cabrini, and Michael Judge find most worthy heirs, as you continue to give the Word flesh in your simplicity of life, charity, and obedience.
–The awesome yet gentle might of the Christ’s Resurrection continues in the Church of New York in her faithful people, women and men who love their Church in spite of her wounds, who savor their baptismal call, rely upon the grace and mercy of prayer and the sacraments, live as committed husbands and wives, mothers and fathers, and generous single people, and who bring the person, teachings, and invitation of their Lord to family, community, parish, and the public square, continuing the legacy of such lay leaders as Pierre Toussaint, Dorothy Day, and Governor Al Smith.
–Christ is one with His Church in this archdiocese as we obey his final mandate to teach, as we praise God for the prize of our celebrated Catholic schools, to whose flourishing I pledge my bes
t efforts and support, and our promising programs of evangelization and catechetics.
–The Resurrection of Jesus goes on in our apostolate for the struggling, searching, and marginalized, as thousands of those closest to Christ’s Sacred Heart-the hungry, homeless, sick, troubled, and immigrants–find solace and help in our Catholic charities and healthcare. Conscious are we of former Mayor Ed Koch’s observation that the Catholic Church is the glue that keeps this city together . . . and, and . . . the Resurrection goes on, as His Church continues to embrace and protect the dignity of every human person, the sanctity of human life, from the tiny baby in the womb to the last moment of natural passing into eternal life. As the Servant of God Terrence Cardinal Cooke wrote, “Human life is no less sacred or worthy of respect because it is tiny, pre-born, poor, sick, fragile, or handicapped.” Yes, the Church is a loving mother who has a zest for life and serves life everywhere, but she can become a protective “mamma bear” when the life of her innocent, helpless cubs is threatened. Everyone in this mega-community is a somebody with an extraordinary destiny. Everyone is a somebody in whom God has invested an infinite love. That is why the Church reaches out to the unborn, the suffering, the poor, our elders, the physically and emotionally challenged, those caught in the web of addictions.
–The risen Jesus remains alive in this archdiocese as the Church partners with respected neighbors and friends of other Christian families, our Jewish older brothers and sisters in the faith, who today conclude Passover and have our best wishes, and with our Islamic and Eastern religious communities, as the Church relishes the unique ecumenical and inter-religious concord of this greater New York community; and as the archdiocese collaborates with our political, civic, cultural, and business leaders, so very welcome here today, in all noble prospects advancing human welfare and dignity. Seven-and-a-half years ago, on September 11, 2001, New Yorkers gave a lesson of extraordinarily generous courage to the world. Selfless police officers, fire fighters, and emergency medical personnel, saved lives, and many gave theirs. Their sacrifice was an ecumenical, interreligious civic testimony to the worth of every human person. You did us all proud, and now how proud I am now to partner with all of you in that same spirit;
–and, maybe most of all, Christ remains present in His Church as people whisper prayers, worship at Sunday Mass, struggle with sin and pursue virtue, hunger for God’s Word and Sacrament, and realize that, as much as we love New York, we have here no lasting home, for our true citizenship is in heaven.
And just what, I ask you, does the Church have to give? Does she have power and clout, property and prestige? Forget it! Those days are gone, if they ever did exist at all.
The Church instead borrows the vocabulary Jesus Himself used in those days after He rose, as we speak of “a peace He gives us,”
of “feeding my sheep,”
of “teaching the nations.”
The Church really has no treasure but her faith in the Lord, which is not bad at all, as we shrug and say with Peter and John in the Acts of the Apostles, “Silver and gold we have not, but, what we do have, we give: …
Now, let me bring this home by suggesting that we all take a little stroll down…the road to Emmaus.
See, I mentioned to you that the Church continues not just the rising but also the dying of Jesus Christ. We’ve just been through a litany of ways that the rising of Jesus radiates in the Church in this historic archdiocese. But we’d be naive if we overlooked the dying, wouldn’t we?
For indeed not only the Resurrection but the cross, the dying, of Christ goes on:
–As we are tempted to fatigue in our works of service and charity;
–As we continue realistically to nurse the deep wounds inflicted by the horrible scandal, sin, and crime of sexual abuse of minors, never hesitant to beg forgiveness from God and from victim survivors and their families, committed to continue the reform, renewal, and outreach Pope Benedict encouraged us to last year, when, among many other places, he urged us in this very cathedral, “to respond with Christian hope to the continuing challenges [of] this painful situation…”
— The cross is there as more and more of our people are burdened under financial woe and uncertainty;
–As strains on the family take their toll, or as the Church is ridiculed for her teaching on the sanctity of marriage;
–As we struggle to keep our parishes and schools strong, and recognize that we need a new harvest of vocations to the priesthood, diaconate, religious life, and faithful, life-long, life-giving marriage;
Shortages and cutbacks, people mad at the Church or even leaving her, and our seeming inability to get the Gospel message credibly out there . . .
. . . are we not at times perhaps like those two dejected disciples on the road to Emmaus? They were so absorbed in their own woes, so forlorn in their mistaken conclusion that the one in whom they had placed their trust was dead, so shocked by the shame, scandal, and scorn of last Friday . . . that they failed to recognize Jesus as He walked right alongside of them!
I say to you, my sister and brother disciples now on the road to Emmaus, let’s not turn inward to ourselves, our worries, our burdens, our fears; but turn rather to Him, the way, the truth, and the life, the one who told us over and over, “Be not afraid!”, who assured us that He “would be with us all days, even to the end of the world,” and who promised us that “not even the gates of hell would prevail,” the one who John Paul the Great called, “the answer to the question posed by every human life,” and recognize Him again in His word, in the “breaking of the bread,” in His Church.
Let Him “turn us around” as He did those two disciples, turned them around because, simply put, they were going the wrong way, and sent them running back to Jerusalem, where Peter was, where the apostles were, where the Church was.
For three weeks in July, 1992, I was on pilgrimage in Israel. I had a wonderful Franciscan guide who made sure I saw all the sacred places in the Holy Land. The day before I departed, he asked, “Is there anything left you want to see?”
“Yes,” I replied, “I would like to walk the road to Emmaus.”
“That we cannot do,” he told me, “You see, no one really knows where that village of Emmaus actually was, so there is no more road to Emmaus.”
Sensing my disappointment, he remarked, “Maybe that’s part of God’s providence, because we can now make every journey we undertake a walk down the Road to Emmaus.”
My new friends of this great archdiocese, would you join your new pastor on an “adventure in fidelity,” as we turn the Staten Island Expressway, Fifth Avenue, Madison Avenue, Broadway, the FDR, the Major Deegan, and the New York State Thruway into the Road to Emmaus, as we witness a real “miracle on 34th street” and turn that into the road to Emmaus?
For, dare to believe, that:
From Staten Island to Sullivan County
From the Bowery, to the Bronx, to Newburgh,
From White Plains to Poughkeepsie…
He is walking right alongside us.
“For why do we look for the living among the dead?”
“For He is risen as He said, alleluia, alleluia!”
“Give thanks to the Lord for He is good, for His mercy endures forever.”