Homily By Fr Frank Brennan, Rector at Newman College, Wednesday of Holy Week, 8 April 2020. Listen at https://soundcloud.com/frank-brennan-6/homily-8420
Today, the Wednesday of Holy Week on the cusp of our Easter Triduum, we hear the words of the prophet Isaiah, Chapter 50:
Does anyone start proceedings
Then let us go to court together.
Who thinks he has a case against me?
Let him approach me.
Yesterday the nation witnessed a huge court case bringing to conclusion the trial of Cardinal George Pell. The court decision has triggered many reactions around the country, despite our physical distancing and isolation. There are many voices out there – if not in the streets, then on the airwaves. Let’s be attentive to the voices of those most involved in these court proceedings.
None of us knows the identity of the complainant, nor should we. We know him only as Mr J. Yesterday he issued a statement through his lawyer saying:
‘My journey has been long and I am relieved that it is over. I have my ups and downs. The darkness is never far away. Despite the stress of the legal process and public controversy I have tried hard to keep myself together. I am OK. I hope that everyone who has followed this case is OK.’
So that I may know how to reply to the wearied
he provides me with speech.
Each morning he wakes me to hear,
to listen like a disciple.
The Lord Yahweh has opened my ear.
Whatever our view about the court decision, let’s open our ears to hear Mr J and all those who have suffered dreadful trauma in their lives. Let’s use our power of speech to learn how we might reply to those who are weary, those for whom darkness is never far away, those having their ups and downs trying to keep themselves together.
The other key person in the court proceedings is Cardinal George Pell who now walks free after 400 days in prison, most often solitary confinement. He too has issued a statement:
‘I hold no ill will toward my accuser, I do not want my acquittal to add to the hurt and bitterness so many feel; there is certainly hurt and bitterness enough. The only basis for long term healing is truth and the only basis for justice is truth, because justice means truth for all.’
For my part, I made no resistance
neither did I turn away.
I offered my back to those who struck me,
my cheeks to those who tore at my beard;
I did not cover my face
against insult and spittle.
The Lord Yahweh comes to my help,
so that I am untouched by the insults.
Whatever the graffiti on cathedral walls and whatever the demonstrations outside the Carmelite monastery, let’s not bear ill will towards each other, let’s not allow this latest court ruling to add to the bitterness and hurt which so many are feeling at this time.
Let’s pray for Mr J and Cardinal Pell this Easter that they might be assured that justice, truth and healing are near at hand. Let’s speak truth to power. Let’s enact justice where there is oppression. Let’s be attentive to the tender moments of healing even in the midst of controversy and division. Let’s make our way to the passion, death and resurrection of the Lord.