BRIDGEPORT—The Gospel of Matthew challenges us to avoid the great sin of bad example by leading authentic lives, said Bishop Frank J. Caggiano in his homily for the 16 Sunday in Ordinary time.
“Consider in your life and in mine the times when we’ve excused our own bad behavior because of the behavior of the people around us,” the bishop said in his online Mass from the Catholic Center chapel.
“Unfortunately we live in a time when many of us are told that our words don’t matter and our actions can be easily excused because everybody else is doing the same thing,” he said.
The bishop reflected on the parable of wheat and weeds, (Matthew 13:24-43), “Let them grow together until harvest; then at harvest time I will say to the harvesters, “First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles for burning; but gather the wheat into my barn.”
He began his homily by noting that the gospel provides “a spiritual lesson” that can help the Church better reach out to young people and encourage all believers to be their best selves.
Noting that he recently participated in a national working group with other bishops and Catholic lay leaders to discuss the results of a three-year conversation with youth and young adults across the country, the bishop said the study found that young people want the Church to listen to them, hear their concerns and bring them into leadership.
He expected those concerns to be brought forward; however, he said what really stayed him was that the youth defined an “authenticity gap” between what the Church teaches and how many of its leaders and laity act.
“Young people are crying out to those around them to live as authentic wheat, so they can distinguish between wheat and weeds,” the bishop said, adding that the young are well aware of the hypocrisy in our churches, families and neighborhoods when we fail to live up to the gospel.
“In their remarks it was echoed and re-echoed how discouraged young people become when a leader does not live our faith, when leadership says one thing and does another. You and I are keenly aware of the failings of leadership in the Church, the harm it has done—and the need for those in leadership now to rebuild that trust with God’s people,” he said.
As people of faith we must work to become “wheat in the midst of weeds” in this world and in doing so help others to lead good lives and find salvation, he said.
“We are called to live an authentic life for our own sake and for the salvation of those around us,” the bishop said, adding that our own sinful behavior becomes an impediment to others finding the path to holiness.
The Bishop said he often finds himself turning off the news and saying, “My God, what kind of world is this.”
He acknowledged that none of us as individuals can change the world, but we can make better decisions and set an example for those around us by not making excuses for ourselves about “the big and little things we do.”
“It is not easy to live an authentic life. There are thousands of challenges of head and heart, but we want to do it or we wouldn’t be here at this liturgy.”
In brief remarks before the final blessing bishop said that people throughout the diocese are now joining together online to say the Rosary twice a week, and that young people are leading the Rosary one evening in every week. He urged all to join in and accompany the young people in an act of spiritual solidarity and affirmation.
To join the bishop and others in the weekly Sunday Rosary, please visit formationreimagined.org/summer-sunday-rosary/. (If you do not have access to a computer but still wish to join, please call 301.715.8592, 845.737.3993, or 312.626.6799, and enter this ID number when prompted: 853 2949 3207 If you call in a few minutes early, you should hear some music until we begin.)