What does a holy lawyer look like?
Bishop Ronald Gainer posed this question in his homily at the Diocesan Red Mass, celebrated Oct. 7 at St. Patrick Cathedral in Harrisburg.
The annual liturgy takes place as the U.S. Supreme Court begins its new session, and invokes the wisdom of the Holy Spirit on behalf of judges, attorneys, legislators and all who are involved in public service.
Reflecting on the Gospel Reading, the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus, Bishop Gainer asked the congregation to consider which person in the passage best connects with their life. Is it the rich man, who lives a lavish life while showing no care for his fellow man, and finds himself in torment after death? Lazarus, who lives a life of pain and hunger, but is rewarded in heaven? Or the rich man’s brothers, whom he wishes to warn so that they change their selfish ways?
“I want to suggest that all of us – every one of us here – especially you who serve society through your professions, should identify with the five brothers,” the bishop said.
“You and I have all that we need,” he remarked. “We have been given God’s law, we have the Scriptures, which inspires to live more faithfully as God intends us to live. We have the teachings of our Church, in which God’s revealed truths are clarified and applied to our lives. We have the Eucharist and the sacraments to sanctify us and strengthen us. We have the laws of our land, which are meant to order our society so that every person can achieve his or her God-given destiny. We have the example of many selfless and dedicated professionals at law, who prepared the way for us. We have our education in law, and the rich treasure of scholarship and jurisprudence to direct us.”
“And yes, above all else, we have been given the unsurpassable gift of Someone, Someone who has been raised from the dead; Someone who fulfills all that Moses and the prophets gave us. We have a Risen Savior. And we have the Holy Spirit, who inspires us and enables us to walk in truth and justice with God and with one another.”
“The question is, how will we use all that we have been given?” Bishop Gainer posed. “How well will we listen and heed? Toward whose good, whose wellbeing will we direct this treasure that has been entrusted to us?”
These questions, he said, are not pious musings, but rather are critical for our society and for our salvation.
“In some minds, there is a divide between Church and State even greater than the divide between the rich man and Lazarus,” he said.
“This Red Mass calls on the Holy Spirit to guide you in your profession, and therefore it means to aid to your sanctification, so that in and through your practice of the law, you can fulfill your baptismal call to holiness – the call we have all received from God to be saints,” the bishop said.”
(The Red Mass is sponsored by the St. Thomas More Society of Central Pennsylvania, an organization of lawyers, judges, lawmakers, students of law and others in the legal profession. Visit www.saintthomasmoresociety.com.)
By Jen Reed, The Catholic Witness