Archbishop Paul S. Coakley July 10, 2016
As I turned the page of the calendar and bid farewell to the month of June, I did so with a sense of relief, but also with a good measure of gratitude.
Why relief? The month of June was hard on many fronts. We saw the continuing onslaught of horrific terror attacks: first in Orlando, then in Istanbul. Our hearts are crushed with grief for the innocent victims of violence who are being sacrificed on the altars of hatred and intolerance.
We had further legal setbacks in our defense of innocent human life as the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a Texas abortion law. Finally, we witnessed a further muddling of common sense and another short-sighted executive overreach as the ban was lifted on so-called transgendered persons serving in the military. The tsunami of this radical gender ideology continues to sweep away centuries of settled wisdom about what it means to be male and female, about what it means to be a human being created in God’s image and likeness. This list could be expanded, but I don’t want to give the devil more than his due!
At a time when Israel had slipped further and further into neglect of their covenant responsibilities God sent the prophet Amos with a warning: “Yes, days are coming, says the Lord God, when I will send a famine upon the land: Not a famine of bread, or thirst for water, but for hearing the word of the Lord” (Amos 8:11). It seems that such a famine is overtaking our world these days as people close their ears and harden their hearts to the prophetic voice of God and even to the dictates of reason.
Yet, God has not abandoned us. Even if we are unfaithful, God remains faithful. Through the prophet Jeremiah God promised his people, “I will give you shepherds after my own heart” (Jer. 3:15). Just when we need it most God offers a word of encouragement. God renews his covenant daily.
During month of June I had the privilege of participating in a trifecta! One of the principal responsibilities and great joys of a bishop is to confer the sacrament of Holy Orders. It is through this sacrament that I experience my spiritual fatherhood in a particularly poignant way.
Last month, I conferred all three grades of Holy Orders as I ordained a deacon, a priest and a bishop. Deacon Kelly Edwards was ordained a transitional deacon on June 5. Father John Paul Lewis was ordained a priest on June 26. And Bishop David Konderla was ordained Bishop of Tulsa on June 29.
By God’s gracious gift, and because God is faithful, there will be no famine of “hearing the word of the Lord.” God continues to raise up heralds of the Gospel, shepherds for his people and stewards of his holy mysteries.
This is the reason for my gratitude. God is with us. Even in the darkness, his light still shines. Against the backdrop of God’s own covenant fidelity, hope is renewed.