By Kevin Kelly
Catholic Key Associate Editor
KANSAS CITY — Physical pain, humiliation, sorrow, abandonment.
Absolutely everything that suffering human beings feel, Jesus also felt, Bishop Robert W. Finn told more than 100 people who came to a special, annual Mass for Healing and Reconciliation Nov. 11 at St. Louis Parish.
And just before he died, the bishop said, Jesus forgave.
“Then the healing of his grace, the beauty of his saving love, began to live and grow, and take over the life of the world,” Bishop Finn said.
This Mass marked the sixth year that the special Mass had been celebrated, but this time there were special intentions and a very special guest.
Concelebrating with Bishop Finn and St. Louis pastor Father Carlos Saligumba was Father James Flanagan, founder of the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity, that in its 53-year history has sent teams of priests, including Father Saligumba, religious and lay into service for the church.
The Mass of Healing and Forgiveness was begun by Jim and Karol Dougherty, four years after Kansas City police shot and killed their 26-year-old son, Aaron, in their home.
But rather than lose themselves in anger and hatred, the Doughertys worked with police to increase training and awareness of police crisis intervention involving the mentally ill.
This year, the Mass was offered for the employees of the Catholic Chancery who have been caught in the crossfire of criminal child pornography charges against a priest that led to a Jackson Country grand jury indictment against Bishop Finn himself on misdemeanor charges that he failed to report the priest to authorities.
But Bishop Finn said he turned to Jesus as he weathered months of public scorn and calls for his resignation.
More specifically, he said he contemplated and prayed upon the wounds that Jesus suffered, and how Jesus told his disciples that they, too, must take up their own cross if they are to follow him.
“Our Lord Jesus Christ begins to save us by helping us see in his sufferings a mirror of ourselves and our sufferings,” Bishop Finn said.
“There will be days when we say, ‘My heart is broken,’” he said.
“Look at the heart of Jesus that was pierced. Look at the blood and water flowing from that heart that has washed us,” he said.
“We look upon his head that was spat upon, beaten with rods and crowned with thorns,” Bishop Finn said. “If we feel we’ve been beaten, then we look to the face of Jesus, which is still beautiful in its humanity and divinity.”
As he did with the disciple Thomas, who needed to see the wounds of Jesus before he would believe, so too Jesus extends those wounds to all, Bishop Finn said.
“In the Risen Jesus, they are marks of glory. They are the signs of his love for us. They are the price he paid for you and me,” the bishop said.
“He doesn’t cover them. He extends them to us,” Bishop Finn said. “So desirous is he that we would be free from sin and death that he gave his heart, his hands and feet, his head, his entire will so that we would have a model, a source of strength and a promise of hope and resurrection.”
When believers unite their suffering with the suffering of Christ, “powerful and wonderful things can happen,” Bishop Finn said.
“The sufferings that could cripple us became powerful instruments when we give them to the Lord and say, ‘I want my suffering to be an instrument of love and peace. As imperfect as I am, as weak and helpless, I want my suffering to be a source of beauty for all the world,’” he said.
By uniting our human suffering with the human suffering of Christ, “we have a means to participate in the life of Jesus,” he said.
“When we give ourselves to Christ, what amazing things he can do with us,” Bishop Finn said.
But two things are still required before the healing power of God’s grace can begin — sorrow for the sins we have committed, and forgiveness of those who have sinned against us, Bishop Finn said.
“I am sorry, Lord, for having sinned,” he said. “I am sorry for hurting others. I am sorry for my selfishness, for my greediness that cause me not to reverence others over myself.
“As a deacon, priest and bishop, I am sorry, and I must feel it in my heart for the sins of deacons, priests and bishops,” Bishop Finn said.
“Lord, I forgive those who hurt me. Those are very difficult words to say,” he said.
“I forgive those who made fun of me, those who have neglected me.
“Now I ask, Lord have mercy. Lord have mercy. Lord have mercy.”