By Partricia L. Guilfoyle, Catholic News Herald Editor
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Our faith in Jesus Christ must be as resolute as that of the Apostles, Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz preached during a Holy Hour homily for the 10th annual Eucharistic Congress in Charlotte Sept. 20. The annual celebration organized by the Diocese of Charlotte attracted more than 13,000 people to the Charlotte Convention Center for Mass and Adoration, confession, educational talks and music.
Just as the Apostles’ faith in Jesus was steadfast — despite being rocked by persecution and tumult in their times — our faith should be no less certain in the face of today’s challenges to our faith, our families and the church itself, said Archbishop Kurtz, who shepherds the Archdiocese of Louisville, Ky., and serves as president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Peter and the other Apostles experienced the safe “harbor” of Jesus when they were out on the Sea of Galilee and a storm blew up around them, Archbishop Kurtz noted, referring to the familiar Gospel narrative. Jesus calmed the storm and the waves, reassuring his disciples. And although Peter later denied even knowing Jesus three times during his Passion, Peter ultimately confessed to the Lord that he loved him, when the risen Jesus asked him three times if he would love him and feed his sheep.
“The presence and encounter with Jesus changed Peter once and for all and forever — the kind of thing we hope will occur with us in the presence of Jesus today,” Archbishop Kurtz said, pointing to the Blessed Sacrament exposed on the altar near him.
Jesus got into Peter’s boat, and Peter was never the same again. Similarly, he said, “We are in the boat and Jesus is in the boat with us.” All the problems of this world “cannot sink the boat of Jesus. What are we to fear?”
Jesus is “our anchor, our rudder, our lighthouse, our lifeboat, and, yes, our harbor,” he said.
Archbishop Kurtz encouraged families to pray together and stay close to the sacraments, to strengthen their faith and their solidarity with our brothers and sisters.
“The closer we come to the Church, to Jesus, the closer we come to one another. Sadly, the farther away we are from Jesus and his Church, the more we separate ourselves from the Church, the more we are distant and forget to go to Sunday Mass and to confession, the less we pray each day, we’re not closer to one another because all we do is think of ourselves. We just plain become more selfish,” he said.
“In our public life, we have to proclaim Jesus with our witness,” he emphasized.
“My dear friends in Christ, you and I are in the boat. We are members of the Church, and just as you yearn for the presence of Jesus, there are people throughout our country and our world who are yearning for the presence of Jesus,” Archbishop Kurtz said.
He recalled a recent trip through the Louisville airport: “I wore my collar, and because of that collar I had three different encounters between the door of that terminal and getting through that check-out line for security.”
One person asked the archbishop to hear his confession, another asked for prayers for her sick granddaughter, and an engaged couple asked for his blessing on their upcoming marriage, he recounted.
“People are yearning for Jesus to touch their hearts. They are attracted, of course, to a symbolic collar, but how much more are you and I attracted this morning to the real presence, to the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament?”
“Pray with great, great confidence,” he said, just as Peter and the other Apostles did so long ago.
Jesus, he reassured, “is in his Church and with his Church and he continues to calm the storms of our lives.”