Remarks by Bishop Rodríguez
Bishop of Lubbock, Texas
129th Supreme Convention, August 4, 2011
Your Excellencies, Priests, Deacons, Worthy Supreme Knight, Carl Anderson, Supreme Board of Directors, My Brother Knights of Columbus, State Deputies, Supreme Delegates, and Brothers all in Christ:
Every time we gather in this Supreme Convention, it is always a joy and happiness, and privilege to address you. Each Supreme Convention becomes an opportunity for discernment, in order to shape a new vision for the future, and share a deeper understanding for living as a Knight. You create a new chemistry of fraternity that gives joy to our lives. Keep up this good spirit, which is from Above, from Heaven.
I would like to speak with you on the sermon on The Mount, which we know as the Beatitudes, so that we may know who Jesus is, and how to act toward others, the new comers, the immigrant in our midst.
There is a Movement with the Ten Commandments, and with the Beatitudes. It is on this same floor of this Plaza Ballroom. But you have to know the backdrop for the Beatitudes. Back in November 2000, the United States Bishops saw the pastoral need to “Welcome the stranger among us: unity in diversity.” The Bishops are asking us to undergo a radical change, a conversion of heart, so that we all may become a welcoming Church to the immigrants.
As if this were not urgent enough, the two Episcopacies, both the Bishops of the United States, together with the Bishops of Mexico, wrote an appealing letter of pastoral concerns for the immigrant. The Bishops are speaking on behalf of 180.0 million Catholics. This pastoral letter is titled: Strangers No Longer: Together on the Journey of Hope. This is an unprecedented initiative of two Bodies of Bishops, acting simultaneously on a grave matter of migration and the Church.
Archbishop Jose Gomez spoke yesterday on the same important topic. And he was not speaking merely as an individual, but echoing this pastoral letter.
And still the topic on migration becomes even more divisive, while at the same time, more people suffer, more families are torn apart, more injustices and crimes are committed, and the poison of racism and hatred eats away at the “soul of our country.”
Norway - Terrorism 92 - Violence/Fear of Islam/Europe
I come from a very different perspective. I ask you to consider the Sermon on the Mount, as Pope Benedict has done in his book, Jesus of Nazareth. In Matthew 5:1-2, we read: “Seeing the crowds, Jesus went up on the mountain, and when he sat down his disciples came to him, and he opened his mouth and taught them.”
1) Jesus sits down - The expression of the plenary authority of the Teacher. He takes his seat on the cathedra of the mountain, as the teacher of Israel and as the teacher of people every where. Every one who hears Jesus and accepts the Word can become a “disciple.” What counts from now on is hearing and following. Discipleship is possible for everyone. St. Luke (6:20) adds that the sermon demands discipleship, and can be understood and lived out only by following Jesus and accompany him on his journey.
Notice that Jesus sits on the Cathedra of Moses, and is greater than Moses. Jesus is on a new mountain, on a new Sinai.
2) “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs the Kingdom of God.”
When Jesus “lifted up his eyes on his disciples,” (Luke 6:20 ff), each Beatitude describes Jesus’ disciples: as poor, hungry, and weeping; and they are persecuted and hated. A paradox, in terms of God’s values, Jesus brings joy into the midst of affliction.
Your best example of this living paradox is St. Paul, “We are afflicted in every way, but not forsaken, struck down, but not destroyed.” (2 Cor. 4: 8-9) And yet he experiences a boundless joy; he experiences the interconnectedness of Cross and Resurrection.
And this is what I would like to impress upon you, that as the disciple suffers, in his messengers Christ Himself still suffers, Christ still hangs on the Cross. And yet he is risen, irrevocably risen. This is the joy and “blessedness”, and happiness of the Beatitudes.
The Beatitudes display the mystery of Christ Himself, and they call us into communion with him. The Beatitudes are also a road map for the Church. And the Church as a whole must never forget that she has to remain recognizably the community of God’s poor.
This is the reason that the Bishops of the United States and Mexico have written this Pastoral message, “Strangers No Longer - Together on the Journey of Hope”, and want to reflect their presence in the Church, and the Church with each immigrant and migrant. We are called to a great act of conversion to embrace the poor of the Gospel, the poor of Jesus, the poor of the Church, and do a great recruitment effort for the Knights of Columbus.
Thank You, Gracias, Merci Beaucoup, Salament, Gratie