By Mark Pattison
Catholic News Service
WASHINGTON — The desire to apply the Gospel is one thing, but spreading the Gospel effectively “requires effort,” said Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio of the Archdiocese for the Military Services in a Jan. 27 Mass homily at the Catholic Social Ministry Gathering in Washington.
“We are convinced of the virtue taught by Jesus Christ and we want to promote both those virtues and the values they inspire in the hearts of disciples,” Archbishop Broglio said. “We believe that we have something to offer to our brothers and sisters. We want to fill them with life and promote a more just society.”
“Important are the methods we choose,” he added. “Seeking creative ways to pass the message of the Gospel effectively evangelizes, but it requires effort. In these days as you celebrate the call to witness, seek ways to make that witness effective and penetrating. Render effective service to the Gospel and the nation that we love.”
Archbishop Broglio said, “We want to renew our society with Gospel values. We want to ensure that the same society welcomes immigrants: both those fleeing difficult conditions at home and those who are already here.
“In 1890, when my grandparents arrived on these shores, they did not have much money in their pockets, but they accepted the welcome, lived in a tenement and worked hard. Can we say no to those who continue to arrive filled with hope for a better future?”
In the sphere of uniting a divided nation, Archbishop Broglio pointed to King David, the focus of the Mass’s Old Testament reading. He was “astute” in how he reunited the 12 tribes of Israel; David “would not lift his hand against the Lord’s anointed,” he noted.
In choosing how to set about that task today, he added, “it certainly cannot be through the senseless violence which cheapens life and makes everyone a victim. You and I must be able to inspire something better. I like to joke that the fathers of the nation in the Second Amendment could only have been thinking of flintlocks. Could we not be strict interpreters of the Constitution and defend the right to bear a flintlock?”
Archbishop Broglio pointed to the example of a World War II Army Air Corps chaplain, Father Verbis Lafleur, who chose to stay with his unit in the Philippines and was captured. “In the end as the Allies were retaking the islands, the prison ship that now housed Father Lafleur and his fellow prisoners was torpedoed and he perished pushing his fellow captives to safety from the hold of the ship. He died giving life to others,” he said.
“A fellow prisoner of his once wrote to me to tell me of this heroism and to mention that he converted to Catholicism because of the priest’s example. The man’s son is now a priest.”
In repeating the Catholic Social Ministry Gathering’s 2020 theme of “Bearing Witness: Life and Justice for All,” Archbishop Broglio noted how in the Gospel reading for the Mass, the Pharisees, when confronted by the reality of Jesus’ miracles, suggested Christ had derived his power from Satan.
“Jesus carefully refutes their argument by demonstrating the lack of logic and effectively announcing that the reign of Satan is over, because the kingdom of God has arrived in the person of Jesus Christ,” the archbishop said. “We firmly believe in that arrival and strive to make his life and justice a reality for all.”
The annual Catholic Social Ministry Gathering is organized by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development in collaboration with 10 other USCCB departments and 16 national Catholic organizations.