(Msgr. Ralph J. Chieffo, pastor of St. Mary Magdalen Parish in Media, published his following reflection in the parish bulletin Oct. 28, and is reprinted here with permission.)
Over the years, I have spiritually guided victims and perpetrators of child abuse. Most perpetrators were fathers, friends of the family, teachers, coaches and a few brother priests. Both victims and perpetrators have taught me that they could only find healing through the mercy of God and the sacrament of reconciliation.
They let go of their anger, bitterness and sadness, so that the divine love of Jesus can bless them with peace and the ability to make amends.
Laws help us to be just and punish criminals, but mercy caresses and corrects the person to become a wounded healer.
Recently, a victim of priest abuse shared that he lived in bitterness and resentment and gave up going to church. Through the Twelve Step Program, he learned that without trust in a higher power, he could not forgive or reconcile with himself and others. He found a priest in the AA program that reconciled him and restored his faith in the Church.
By participating at Mass, reflecting on the scriptures and daily adoration, God is calling him to reach out to other victims to become wounded healers.
Imagine yourself blind and destitute. If you heard that Jesus the healer was passing by, would you cry out like Bartimaeus to heal you? Seeking Jesus took a lot of “guts” (courage) and persistence for Bartimaeus to get the attention of Jesus over the din of a noisy throng, but it paid off.
Jesus made him see, but also showed him the way to sacrifice his life and enjoy resurrection. Goodness and mercy follows those who put their trust in God.
Why did Jesus put this question to Bartimaeus: “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus wanted to draw out of him a personal response of faith and trust in his power to heal and make whole. Jesus commends Bartimaeus for recognizing who he is with the eyes of faith and grants him physical sight as well.
Do you recognize the Lord Jesus with “eyes of faith” as your merciful Lord and healer? Ask the Lord Jesus to strengthen your faith that you may draw near to him and receive his grace and mercy.
“Lord Jesus, may I never fail to recognize my need for your grace and mercy. Strengthen my faith and trust in you, that I may seek your presence daily and listen to your word with a readiness to follow you, my All.”
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