In His Light: See that you do not despise one of these little ones

September 25, 2018

“And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).

These are the last words of the Master as recorded by the evangelist Matthew in his narrative before His ascension to His heavenly Father. A promise that He knew was essential to ensure the well-being and mission of His Church on earth and being acutely aware of our human imperfections, the Master was knowledgeable that our mental and spiritual abilities were limited. He was conscious of our potentiality to sinfulness and our weaknesses of the flesh. 

Our Lord made an eternal promise of His holy presence within His Church. He promised, “And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another advocate to be with you always, the Spirit of truth, which the world cannot accept because it neither sees nor knows it. But you know it because it remains with you, and will be in you” (John 14:16-17). One would affirm the belief with the power and grace of the Blessed Trinity guiding Holy Mother the Church that we would be safe from all harm, division and scandal in spite of our human deformities. However, once again we are finding ourselves submerged in a turbulent sea of embarrassment, calamity and tribulation. 

Here we are, once again, at this dark hour embodied as the Church of Rome shrouded in confusion, bewilderment and loss of face as the result of the twisted conduct and behavior of some mendacious and treacherous individuals. Men permitted to receive the precious gifts of Holy Orders, along with the conscious action and inactions of those entrusted with the office of the episcopacy and through their blind ambition or sheer misguided vision of some pseudo-fraternal dedication allow these atrocities to metastasize for decades within our beloved Church.

I was blessed as a child to be a “Church rat” while the majority of my buddies were “gym rats.” I was consistently hanging out at the rectory or convent to see if I could be of any assistance to the priests or sisters. Because of all those years in the company of numerous priests and religious, I never once had to endure the shame and hurt that comes from being abused by one from their ranks.

It would not be until my sophomore year in college and upon entering seminary that I would come face-to-face with unwanted sexual advancements by fellow seminarians. Along with all the hurt and woundedness that comes with those sin-sick moments, it would be those hideous and sickening experiences that would make me decide not to pursue my childhood dream of being a priest in the Roman Catholic Church. 

My story is not unique or distinctive. Unfortunately, for many whom I know personally and first-hand who are walking around in our midst at this hour, it was almost the daily norm for our lives as seminarians. Henceforth, vile seminarians become amoral priests.

In the Gospel of the evangelist Mark, we read these words, “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were put around his neck and he were thrown into the sea” (9:42). It is obvious from that teaching of the Master where these heinous individuals will exist for all eternity, which for many us means hell is too nice a place for them.

Throughout His teaching and ministry Jesus of Nazareth identified and fought for the rights and privileges of the children in His midst and utilized their pure innocence in His teachings to soften the hearts and minds of those of His age. During the Master’s time, children, widows, the elderly and poor were perceived as excessive burdens on society because of their frailty and inability to contribute to the general welfare of the community as a whole.

These were the masses that our Lord directed His ministry and vocation to from its very inception. “See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven continually see the face of My Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 18:10).

Please let us continue to pray for all those who have endured the abuse of any nature by misguided individuals in our Church. Let us pray that our Church leaders will cease the childish finger-pointing and hollow demands and come together to develop a framework to deal with this plight and stumbling block that has plagued our Church for far too long. And through the grace, beauty and promise of our Almighty God, may we always remain glowing In His Light. †

Deacon Leonard Paul Lockett is the vicar for Catholics of African Descent.