Tuesday, February 21, 2012

New Evangelization - I'm still a sinner.

Check out the New York Post which put the following on the front page:
Most people have heard the famous story of Christ washing the feet of his apostles at the Last Supper. Jesus said to these 12, his closest friends and followers, “If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet. I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.” (John 13:14-15)

With God’s help, it is this model of love and service that I have tried to carry out, however clumsily and imperfectly, during my nearly 36 years as priest, bishop and archbishop. Please God, I will continue to grow in my ability to love and serve the faithful of the Archdiocese of New York.

In the Gospel reading heard at Sunday Mass yesterday, Jesus heals a paralyzed man whose friends lower him through an opening in the roof of a crowded house. It was this faith of the paralyzed man and his friends that moved our Lord to heal him.

It is the same kind of faith I see being carried out each day back home in New York, whether it be in one of our Catholic Charities food pantries that are helping the poor and needy, or in one of our splendid Catholic schools providing new generations with the finest in academic and faith formation, or when I meet with young men and women who want to serve God and His people as priests, sisters or brothers, or visit our elders in an archdiocesan nursing home.

I remain very much aware that the honor of being named a cardinal belongs not only to me, but in a very real way to the Catholic faithful and the entire community of New York, who carry out these acts of faith every day.

While in Rome, I’m staying at the North American College, where I arrived as a 22-year-old seminarian 40 years ago. One of the older workers hugged me when I arrived back here Sunday, and said, “Sorry, but to me you’ll always be a simple young man who arrived here homesick, a friend and a ‘nice guy.’ ” To me, that’s better than being a cardinal!

I return to New York tomorrow, and the next day is Ash Wednesday, when the church marks the beginning of the season of more fervent prayer, self-sacrifice and charity known as Lent.

My first appointment Wednesday morning, my first full day back as your new cardinal, will be to give out breakfast to the daily food line at St. Francis Church on 31st Street; my second appointment is to be marked with ashes at St. Patrick’s, a sign that I’m a big sinner.

These will certainly be good reminders to me of the sacrifice and service of Jesus, who came to suffer and die for our sins.

I will return home as a cardinal, but I’m still a sinner, one only trying to love as God loves us."