By Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan
Just imagine for a moment…the headlines and news alerts come out announcing medication to heal those with the coronavirus, and a vaccine to keep us safe from ever contracting it.
It’s been properly tested and there are no side effects. It is readily available, free of charge, yours for the asking. Come and get it!
Wouldn’t that be good news?
But nobody comes! People report they’re just fine, they are too busy, they really don’t need the cure or the vaccine, all is well. Others may need it…not I. I’m just fine…
It’s hard to imagine such a scenario, is it not? We all admit we need the awaited vaccine so we will be liberated from this dread; those suffering from the virus have no trouble acknowledging they need the cure. It’s tough to imagine people turning it down.
Yet, this is precisely what is happening with the most critical medicine of God’s mercy!
The Lord has healing for sin, the COVID of our souls, and it is His mercy! It’s ours for the asking. All we need to is admit we need it, and ask Him for it.
Yet, we’re not! We yawn and shrug and claim, “I’m okay, you’re okay.” I’m no sinner. Others may need the medicine of His mercy, but not I. I’m not sick. I don’t have the virus of sin.
True, we usually have no hesitancy pointing out the sin in others. It’s just that we don’t have any.
In a way, we all seem convinced we don’t need God. His grace? No thanks; His mercy? Oh, give it to others, I’m fine; His sacraments? Not me; His Church? No thanks; His salvation? I can save myself. Besides, we’re all going to heaven automatically anyway.
Last Saturday evening I celebrated Mass at Immaculate Conception Parish on 14th Street here in Manhattan.
The streets outside were jammed with a fair. As I was winding my way to the door for Mass, one of the street folks, asked, “Where are you going, Reverend?”
“Inside, for Sunday Mass,” I replied.
“What’s in there?” he persisted.
“God’s grace and mercy for the asking,” I answered.
“Oh my,” he came back. “I sure need some of that. Can I come in?”
“You sure can,” I smiled.
He knew He needed God. Do we?
Last Sunday, I finally was able to welcome our candidates and catechumens at the Cathedral to the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and the Holy Eucharist. They had been waiting since the Easter Vigil. Before the Mass, one of them said, “At last! Do I ever need the sacraments!” That’s more like it!
The great Russian writer, poet, exile, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, who was banished to the Gulag for protesting Soviet oppression, claimed, “The deepest curse for humanity is to conclude we do not need God.”
No wonder, forty-one years ago in Warsaw, when, at the closing Mass by Pope St. John Paul II, two million people chanted, “We want God,” the KGB chief watching whispered, “It’s all over…” And, weeks later, it began to crumble.
Yes! Miracles happen when we humbly acknowledge, “I need God! I need His help, His grace, His mercy, His salvation.”
(By the way, this weekend, our Jewish neighbors begin Yom Kippur, and they confess precisely that! Blessings upon them!)