Where jealousy and selfish ambition exists, there is disorder and every foul practice…

Three years ago when we had these readings, we were in the early stages of the Presidential election. Today it seems that despite the election, jealousy and selfish ambition continue to foment disorders and foul practices. Former President Bush, speaking in Shanksville, PA on the 20th anniversary of 9/11 sums it up this way: “So much of our politics has become a naked appeal to anger, fear, and resentment. That leaves us worried about our nation and our future together. I come without explanations or solutions. I can only tell you what I’ve seen.” I share his vision but I look with hope to the prevalence of our Christian faith as expressed in today’s readings.

Yesterday morning’s paper cover the “disorder and foul practices” of violence with 23 shot and four killed overnight, charges of fraud, public indecency, COVID-19 issues, immigration and refugees from Central America, Haiti, and Afghanistan.

Our public leaders spend their time pointing at one another and placing blame always elsewhere. When they ran for office, the airways are full of political ads telling us “oh what a good person am I” and how badly they want to be our servant in representing us on the national, state, or local level. Some even say “I work for you” but I don’t hear anyone saying what Jesus says “I want to be last and servant of all.” Since I read this gospel, in fact all these readings I’ve been listening to what the ads say: virtually nothing about “servant of all.” In honesty and fairness the braggadocious content of the media commercials is one thing all political parties have in common and it focuses on the ME, rather than the “Servant of All.”

The reading from Wisdom reads like a Suffering Servant Song from Isaiah, but from the perspective of the wicked. Whereas the Suffering Servant speaks of his trials at the hands of the ungodly, here the wicked reveal their motivation for attacking the righteous: “he sets himself against our doings…., reproaches us…, and charges us” (Wis 2:12). Sounds like the author of Wisdom has seen the same political ads that I’ve been watching. After the speech of the wicked, the subject turns to the hidden counsels of God.

The reading from the Letter of James also focuses on the wicked, but not as outside opponents. Here the vices of jealousy, selfish ambition, conflicts, envy, killing, and war emerge from one’s passions (Jas 4:1). These elements appear as key ingredients in the political discourse that I’ve seen and heard. The lies are on both sides of the aisle because too often conflict is the only message without little if any references to solutions.

In the Gospel, Jesus catches the disciples fighting over who of them are the greatest, the most important, and the most influential? Who is number one? Remember the game King of the Mountain of childhood years. The same game is played as adults but in more clever and sophisticated ways. The most wealth, the nicest cars, the biggest house are the signs of importance. But Jesus dismisses those symbols and brings a little child, perhaps a street urchin, into the midst of his hand-picked disciples and remarks, with his arm around the child’s shoulder, here is number one. Over 280 children have been shot in Chicago this year. I shudder to think how Jesus reacts to these shootings after embracing childlike innocence as the way to God and healing, compassion and reconciliation.

We give a lot of attention to number one in our society, except that God looks at things differently. Number one is the care-giver, the mentor, the humble servant of the needs of society. So many of the political commentators wring their hands and regret the neglected of society, but their later budgets not only neglect them but too often even reduce what had been given.

I’m sorry if I sound political. I am trying to sound moral and ethical because that is what Wisdom and James are telling us. Jesus in the Gospel of Mark today is very blunt with his disciples and we are his present day disciples. He tells us to remember the little ones of society who are his precious concerns: the refugee, the COVID-19 carrier, those who live in constant fear of violence. I would sort of like him to wrap his arm around my shoulder and yours too as we hear those words: well done good and faithful servant.

Michael Doyle, O.S.M.

Located in west transept of Chicago’s historic Basilica of Our Lady of Sorrows, the altar of Our Lady of Sorrows is justly regarded as one of the finest small altars in the country. Of white Carrara and variegated marbles, its main feature includes the column raised, domed, arched, and cross-topped canopy housing a beautiful statue of the Mother of Sorrows. The altar was consecrated in 1914.

The statue of the Mother of Sorrows is in a declining state of repair. The surface of the statue is experiencing paint flaking and large areas of paint loss. At some point in its history, it had undergone a complete repainting, most likely to cover numerous losses in the paint. At least 50% of the surface area of the statue shows damage to the paint layer. Since it is nearly impossible to remove a layer or layers of repaint to unveil the original paint layer, it seems unreasonable to try to save damaged repaint. The proposed treatment includes cleaning the surface of dirt, dust and flaking paint, filling areas of paint and plaster loss, testing to determine the original colors, and a complete repainting of the surface.

Cost estimate is between $10,000 and $11,000.

Please consider a donation to restore this notable and historic work, that it may continue to welcome and inspire pilgrims seeking the compassionate intercession of the Mother of Sorrows for the next 107 years and beyond.

A New Prayer written by the St. Peregrine ministers for the 2021 Feast of St Peregrine Laziosi, OSM

Brother Jesus, risen to new life, we joyfully celebrate Your Easter victory over sin and death, after You humbly shared with us the pain and joy, the fragility and wonder, of life lived in human flesh. You truly are our hope and promise, as we continue to face a global health crisis, and individual illness, whether our own or that of someone we love. As we also celebrate the feast of St Peregrine, patron of persons with cancer and other serious illness, we open our hearts to express three essential prayers: “Help! Thanks! Wow!”

Help! Lord of mercy, You have heard this word often. It may be our most frequent prayer, especially when we are sick, or when we care for and support someone who is ill. Confident in Your constant and compassionate love for us, we continue to petition for health and wholeness, and for an end to the coronavirus pandemic, for all people throughout the world.

Thanks! How can we ever forget, gracious Jesus, to express our gratitude for Your gifts of healing! Though we have not always received exactly what we desired, You have surprised us with deeper and longer-lasting kinds of healing: of a relationship, an attitude, a memory, or our struggle to trust and depend on You. We are thankful for progress toward ending this plague, and for the first-responders, healthcare professionals, essential workers, researchers and those who administer the vaccine, care-givers, family and friends who have been with us and cared for us during our times of greatest need.

Wow! And sometimes, Your Spirit has amazed us with incredible miracles, beyond our expectations, as you did with St Peregrine! You cure us, bring us out of isolation and loneliness and quarantine, and gift us with precisely what we ask for! And more! Wow! We praise You for Your faithful and powerful love, which delights and energizes us, and which transforms us, and our world, even a little at a time.

We pray all this through the intercession of St Peregrine Laziosi, as we celebrate his feast with the hope and joy of Easter, and with continued petition, thanks and praise! Amen.