- The Washington Times - Monday, February 19, 2001

Excerpts from a sermon given yesterday by Cardinal-designate Theodore E. McCarrick at Church of the Annunciation in the District of Columbia.

I read recently of a family of someone who had been murdered. It was so unusual to hear them say, "We forgive the person who did it." They made excuses for him, they understood, and said they were going to pray for him. And people were saying to me, "How could somebody be willing to forgive when you are hurt so bad?"
Because God forgives us, and the Gospel today [Luke 6:27-37] says it so clearly. It doesn't give us any chance to misinterpret. The Lord Jesus says forgive many times, be merciful as you would want mercy. If somebody takes your coat, give them your tunic also. If somebody strikes you on the cheek, give him the other also. So it is an extraordinary message that Jesus is giving us. It's not an easy message… .
You know the old saying: "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me." I think that's our attitude. We are not by nature forgiving people. The first reading [I Samuel 26:6-12] shows us that this has always been the case. David is being pursued by King Saul unjustly. [David] finds Saul asleep with his spear on the ground beside him. And David's assistant says, "Let me take it and I will thrust him through." And David says, "No. That is not the way God has set up the world. We don't kill a man in his sleep." And now we look at that and say, "What would I have done?" …
The second reading from I Corinthians [15] is so clear. We are not children of the Adam who was the physical Adam. We are children of the second Adam, who was Christ. We are not to live in this world as material beings, but as spiritual beings. It's an enormous challenge. It's a Gospel that really makes us think. What are the really important things in life? What should we really understand to be holy? What should we really understand to be good, to be generous, to be patient? To be a follower of Jesus Christ?
One reason Frank Sinatra's song "My Way" was so popular was not because he sung it so well and it was great music, but because it touched a nerve of our society. We don't want to take direction from anybody. We say, "No, this is what I want to do."
You look at the television commercials, and none say, "Isn't it great to be kind, patient or forgiving." They all say, "Isn't it great to be powerful, beautiful, secure and comfortable? It's great to be rich or to be skinny." None say, "Isn't it great to be what the Lord asks us?" … To reach out to the poor. To worry about those who don't have a home, house or job, or worry about those who are sick.
And yet Jesus, when He gives us the works of mercy, tells us this is how we become holy. This is how we become His spiritual sons and daughters. The voice of the world is saying, "No, no, no. Worry about yourself. You get all you can." We are part of this "me" generation. I think all of our generations are "me" generations. That's why constantly we are faced with the tremendous challenge of holiness… .
This is the whole Gospel. It was not one more moment in the life of the Lord. This is what He came to teach us. He came to teach us that this world is not the end of everything. And so, great success in this world is not what we have to be after. You can be a great success in this world and fail in that world, because we are not made for this world, we are made for heaven.
You know that wonderful old hymn, "When from this exile you call me home again, I will go dancing." Yes, that's what it's all about. This is an exile. We are waiting here to be called back to God. That is why we Catholics can accept death not as a great disaster, but as an open door to everlasting life.
And that is why when we judge the things that happen to us in our lives, you must judge them not with the standard of this society, or of the commercials we see. We must judge them by the standard of eternity.
Next week: a sermon by the Rev. Jerry Lutz at Spencerville Seventh-day Adventist Church.

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