Posts Tagged ‘1-8-2017’

Epiphany (I am Joseph your brother) 1-8-2017

Sunday, January 8th, 2017

Some years ago the Catholic community of Chicago lost one of its greatest leaders and ministers in Cardinal Joseph Bernardin.
Cardinal Bernardin will always be remembered for his great gifts as a reconciler. In some of the Church’s most controversial and divisive moments, he was able, in his humble, sensitive and compassionate way, to earn the trust of liberal and conservative alike, to bring all sides together, to keep everyone focused on the common call to be disciples of Christ. A leader among America’s bishops, he steered the bishops’ conference through debates ranging from the Vietnam War to birth control. When he was wrongly accused of sexual assault by a former seminarian who later took back his story, Cardinal Bernardin did not react with anger at the pain and humiliation he endured, but reached out to his young accuser, forgiving him and praying for and with him. To everyone in Chicago—Catholic and non-Catholic, believer and nonbeliever—he would introduce himself simply as “I am Joseph, your brother”.
Within 48 hours of learning he was dying of liver cancer, Cardinal Bernardin shared his ordeal with the people of his archdiocese. He spent much of the last year of his life personally ministering to people with cancer—his “parish” of cancer patients and their families numbered over 700 people.
“Yes, I’m sacred,” he said, “but I’m a man of faith. I can look at death in two ways: as an enemy or a friend. I choose to view it as a friend. I know that there will be tears, but I am at peace…I have come to believe in a new way that the Lord would walk with me through this journey of illness.”
In his life, ministry and final days, Cardinal Bernardin approached life as a journey to God and with God; reconciliation, compassion and justice—the very things of God—were the “stars” that guided him. Cardinal Bernardin, like the magi in today’s Gospel, is a model for us in our own search for God. On this special Feast of Epiphany I believe we are all challenged to slow down and check our own bearings on our life’s journey. Are we headed in the right direction? What stars are guiding us? I pray that we all will be guided by the stars that guided Joseph Bernardin. The stars of peace, compassion, mercy, justice and forgiveness are the unmistakable signs of God within our hearts.
Rest in Peace Joseph our brother.