May 4, 2021
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
The pandemic has taught us some valuable lessons. First, we need each other; our isolation and separation from each other have taken their toll. This last weekend, I celebrated two Confirmations and offered Mass at the Knights of Columbus State Dinner at the Grand Geneva in Lake Geneva Wisconsin. Although these events were limited in numbers to respect social distancing and health concerns, it was good to be together. It was good to be back even if it was limited. I missed the contact, and many expressed the same sentiments.
Second, we are responsible for one another. We need to abandon our zones of comfort and, at times, conform to actions that will enable our brothers and sisters to be at ease. I do not like wearing a mask, but I do it because I know that friends or coworkers would be more comfortable. I have constantly encountered the charity exhibited by others who have adjusted their behavior accordingly. Many people have used social media, the telephone, or even old-fashioned letter writing to keep in contact with family and friends. These actions demonstrated their care for one another.
Third, I hope that we all have discovered how much we need the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and the Eucharist. By receiving Communion, we join ourselves to the living Lord in a manner that feeds our commitment to live Jesus Christ in the world. We understand that God is ultimately in charge and that we were created not for fulfillment in this world but a life with Him in eternity. The most powerful presence of Jesus is in the Eucharist. Jesus reminds us, “And behold I am with you always until the end of the age” (Mt 28:20).
In the Gospel for the Fifth Sunday of Easter, we heard Jesus declare that He is the vine, and we are the branches: “Without me, you can do nothing” (John 15:5). With Jesus, everything is possible. It is Jesus, who connects us. “If you love me,” Jesus says, “then you will love one another as I have loved you” (John 13:34). The Eucharist connects us to Jesus and allows us to present Him to the communities in which we live.
Jesus is the connection that joins us together. The problems that we face as a society stem from our disconnection. First, we are disconnected from God. There is a reluctance to call publicly upon God, especially in prayer. Secular leaders are almost embarrassed to display faith. Rarely have I heard political leaders call us to prayer during the pandemic. I have often said that religious leaders were marginalized instead of being partners in addressing the issue. If God is not in our vision, then it is no wonder that faith leaders were not invited to participate in seeking the solution to our common problem.
Second, we are also disconnected from each other. More unites us then divides us. Yet, we have seen divisions that have resulted in violence and riots. During the recent protests, I never saw religious leaders at the front of the marches. Faith leaders elevate the issue. It is not a justification of any means possible to achieve a political ideology but understanding that we are called to maintain the dignity God has bestowed on us urging others to unite in a common cause fueled by our responsibility to love our neighbor.
Third, we are disconnected from our ultimate destiny. If we believe only in the “here and now,” then one can see how many will seek to achieve immediate gratification. However, if we understand our destiny to be the “here and hereafter,” then we know that we will be held accountable in a life yet to come. This ultimate destiny reminds us that we may not experience immediate gratification, but we will be fulfilled in following what is God’s will.
When we are connected to Christ, our lives are enriched. We understand our responsibilities toward God and our neighbors. When we are disconnected, we seek only that which offers us self-gratification even at the expense of the common good. How do we begin to change? It’s simple; we measure all things through Jesus’ command that we LOVE ONE ANOTHER.
Most Reverend Jerome E. Listecki
Archbishop of Milwaukee