At the last Mass of the Catholic Social Ministry Gathering, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo told hundreds of participants who were preparing to talk later to their representatives in Congress that "Jesus walks with us" when doing the social ministry of the church.
"Jesus walks with us, we'll walk with him," said Cardinal DiNardo, archbishop of Galveston-Houston, in his homily at the Feb. 5 Mass in Washington.
Cardinal DiNardo, who is president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, also tied in St. Agatha, whose feast day is celebrated Feb. 5, at different points in his homily.
He called St. Agatha "a great, great witness," which should serve as inspiration for Catholic Social Ministry Gathering participants preparing to head to Capitol Hill to meet with lawmakers. "Agatha and company represent a cloud of witnesses that you will be sent to today as you visit about Congress. Lots of clouds and witnesses," Cardinal DiNardo said. "We can only be encouraged, even when we face troubles and difficulties."
He noted St. Agatha also is the patron saint "of those who suffer sexual violence and abuse as she suffered in Sicily." St. Agatha, who had vowed as a teenager to remain a virgin, was raped, tortured and ultimately put to death for refusing to submit to the marriage demand of a Roman prefect. "That's something to keep in mind in the church," Cardinal DiNardo added.
The cardinal linked the church's social ministry with the day's Gospel reading from Mark, in which Jesus brings the 12-year-old daughter of Jairus back from the dead, but not before he heals a woman who has been suffering from hemorrhages for a dozen years.
"People are distraught and come to us, as they come to the Lord," Cardinal DiNardo said.
"Jairus, the head of the synagogue, a top-notch leader -- what would make him kneel down in front of the rabbi (Jesus)?" he asked. "People get that distraught over what happens to them personally. We in social ministry know that, right?"
Jesus' response to Jairus' plea was "OK, let's go," Cardinal DiNardo said. "All of a sudden, things get waylaid by the woman with a hemorrhage."
The woman, unnamed in the Gospel account, "(is) desperate. She's willing to be anonymous to let Jesus heal her," he added.
"Mark uses verbs 'to be healed,' 'to be' -- they are words that indicate salvation," Cardinal DiNardo said. "Where you start, Jesus will lead you around," and for those in social ministry, he added, "Jesus will take us more deeply into the catechesis of who he is."
Once Jesus gets to Jairus' house and expels those weeping and wailing over his daughter's death, he tells the girl to get up, and she does so immediately and starts walking around the room. "Jesus does come to you, and he'll move you and you will stand up and you will move around," Cardinal DiNardo said in his homily.
"All we have to do," he added, "is watch Jesus today and we see that."
In his archdiocese, he said, there are more prisons than in all other Texas dioceses combined. Now, though, "both the left wing and the right wing in Texas agree that something's got to be done" about imprisonment in Texas. He called this "a teachable moment."
As social ministers were preparing to make their Capitol Hill visits, he told them, "Yes, yes, yes -- there is something that can be done to change this (political) environment." There is trouble right now, he acknowledged, "but there's so still so much power because of the power of Jesus."
As in the day's Gospel, Cardinal DiNardo said, "God helps those who come after Jesus."