Bishop Frank’s Homily at Synod 2018

ROME- Enclosed is the 5-minute homily given by Bishop Frank J. Caggiano at the Synod on Young People, the Faith, and Vocational Discernment:

My sisters and brothers in the Lord, how can one heal a broken heart? It seems like a strange, academic question, to ask. Yet, at times in my life, it is a question that has haunted me in the silent hours of the night when the heart that was broken was mine. It is a question that no disciple of the Lord can avoid asking, since it was to heal broken hearts that our Savior came among us. He entered in our fractured world to heal hearts burdened by the frailty of disease and old age, hearts that struggle with doubts and fears, hearts that question whether I am either loveable or will ever be loved by anyone, hearts tortured by our own self-inflicted sins and the sinful betrayal of our neighbor. How often have we looked ourselves in the mirror or looked in the face of a friend and have seen the raw pain of a broken heart. How can such hearts be healed?

Perhaps it was in part to show us the answer to this question that the Lord’s Spirit inspired Luke, a young physician, to become His evangelist. For doctors, both in ancient and modern times seek to remedy the brokenness of life by relying upon their own skills, knowledge or the tools at their disposal. We can only imagine how many times Luke tried to alleviate the sufferings brought to him in his work as a doctor. Yet it was after his encounter and transformation by Christ, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, that Luke learned that there is a better way to heal.

For Christ alone is the Divine Physician who can truly heal us with His love. It is Christ who is the face of Mercy Himself. It is His gift of loving mercy, offered not as object to be received but a share in His very life, that can enlighten our minds, comfort us in our doubts, give consolation in our suffering and forgive the burden of our sins.  As water that is poured on dry land finds the cracks in the hardened soil to penetrate its very depths, so too does Christ’s mercy, poured out upon saints and sinner alike, seeks the cracks of our broken hearts to bring us healing and hope.  It was unlocking the power of divine mercy that transformed Luke into a true physician, whose words and witness can teach us now to heal broken hearts.

The Lord himself taught us, “It is not those who are well who need a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:31-32). My friends, we cannot truly heal anyone on our own. Only Christ brings authentic and lasting healing. Luke understood this and lived his life serving as a simple channel of Christ’s mercy. As a true physician, Luke healed broken hearts not by anything he did on his own but by allowing the Lord’s mercy to flow through all that he did.

St. Theresa of Avila, herself a Doctor of the Church, once said, “Christ has no body now but yours. No hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes through which he looks compassion on this world. Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good. Yours are the hands through which he blesses all the world. Yours are the hands, yours are the feet, yours are the eyes, you are his body.” St. Luke challenges us to offer our feet, eyes, hands, talents and knowledge to be channels of God’s mercy, so that broken hearts can be healed.

Even more, St. Luke challenges us to love those whom society wants to forget. In a world grown blind to the needs of our poor, sick, elderly, disabled, disenfranchised, unemployed, refugee and immigrant, Luke gave voice to the poor, the Samaritan, the prodigal son and the women forgotten by society. His Gospel compels us to walk into the shadows of our modern world and become channels of Christ’s mercy for those whom the world has left behind. As we heard in this morning’s passage from Romans, we must never be ashamed of the Gospel. Rather, it is the power of the Gospel that will offer true healing to every human heart, whether the world sees it or not, likes it or not.

My friends, we are here in synod not solely to produce an ecclesial document or as an exercise of ecclesial discernment. Rather, we have come to sit at the feet of the Divine Physician and learn from Him how to become physicians of broken hearts, among youth, young adults and all God’s people. Let us bring God’s mercy into the world, one broken heart at a time.

Saint Luke, pray for us.