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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Guilelessness and Transparency


"Here is a true child of Israel. There is no duplicity in him."  Jn 1:47

One of the most difficult challenges of contemporary life is transparency in our public lives.  Though everyone calls for it in politics, religion, and business, there seems to be little willingness to act. In recent years, however, Sean Cardinal O’Malley, OFM Cap., to the consternation of some, has published a complete financial report on the website of the Archdiocese of Boston.  Anyone wanting to know how much money the Archdiocese received and how much it spent only needs an internet connection to find out.  In my view, this is not only laudable but necessary. We need to learn from leaders like Cardinal O'Malley how to be transparent in the public arena.

Unfortunately, however, because our society has become so litigious, we have learned a kind of political correctness that does not serve the political process or our personal lives very well. People are afraid to be transparent for fear it will be held against them.  The result, of course, is that everyone walks around looking over their shoulders and the power of the gospel gets lost in a sometimes disingenuous flood of words. 

St. Bartholomew, whose feast we celebrate today, ought to be the patron of those seeking to speak clearly and directly.  Jesus recognized Bartholomew as a man without duplicity. Some translations say he is without guile.  Bartholomew says what he thinks and is honest about what he hears and sees. We need to seek the virtue of guilelessness in our daily lives, to be transparent about what the gospel demands of us and be willing to suffer the consequences of standing behind our beliefs.   

In the light of so much consternation about immigration in our country, for instance, a concern that is understandable especially when so many are out of work, we cannot allow ourselves to forget the challenge of Matthew 25:35-36:  “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.” The word “stranger” is sometimes translated “alien”, and it is clear both in Jewish law and in Catholic history that it is not all right to refuse food, medical care or temporary housing to those in need whether they have legal status in this country or not. While the bishops of our country have been clear about this,(USCCB on immigration) we don't always hear it in our parishes.

Today we pray to and with Bartholomew that the Lord will help us grow in transparency and vulnerability, and that we might hear the words of Jesus: “Take courage, it is I, do not be afraid.” (Mt 14:27)

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