Yes, he is larger-than-life; gregarious, accessible, open, friendly, warm, charming, engaging…Archbishop Timothy Michael Dolan is all those things.
Dolan kisses his crosier, signaling his acceptance of the Shepherd’s burden
But as he showed us in his barnburner of a homily just now, Dolan is afire with the love of Christ. When the time for jokes and camaraderie has past, he speaks of Christ and his spouse the Church with a direct, steely-eyed mien, and he shows himself as fearsome, fervent and formidable.
I say to you, my sister and brother disciples now on the road to Emmaus, let’s not turn inward to ourselves, our worries, our burdens, our fears; but turn rather to Him, the way, the truth, and the life, the one who told us over and over, “Be not afraid!”, who assured us that He “would be with us all days, even to the end of the world,” and who promised us that “not even the gates of hell would prevail,” the one who John Paul the Great called, “the answer to the question posed by every human life,” and recognize Him again in His word, in the “breaking of the bread,” in His Church.
Let Him “turn us around” as He did those two disciples, turned them around because, simply put, they were going the wrong way, and sent them running back to Jerusalem, where Peter was, where the apostles were, where the Church was.
For three weeks in July, 1992, I was on pilgrimage in Israel. I had a wonderful Franciscan guide who made sure I saw all the sacred places in the Holy Land. The day before I departed, he asked, “Is there anything left you want to see?”
“Yes,” I replied, “I would like to walk the road to Emmaus.”
“That we cannot do,” he told me, “You see, no one really knows where that village of Emmaus actually was, so there is no more road to Emmaus.”
Sensing my disappointment, he remarked, “Maybe that’s part of God’s providence, because we can now make every journey we undertake a walk down the Road to Emmaus.”
My new friends of this great archdiocese, would you join your new pastor on an “adventure in fidelity,” as we turn the Staten Island Expressway, Fifth Avenue, Madison Avenue, Broadway, the FDR, the Major Deegan, and the New York State Thruway into the Road to Emmaus, as we witness a real “miracle on 34th street” and turn that into the road to Emmaus?
For, dare to believe, that:
From Staten Island to Sullivan County
From the Bowery, to the Bronx, to Newburgh,
From White Plains to Poughkeepsie…
He is walking right alongside us.
“For why do we look for the living among the dead?”
“For He is risen as He said, alleluia, alleluia!”
“Give thanks to the Lord for He is good, for His mercy endures forever.”
Amen, Amen. Mighty, mighty! We are blessed. We have exactly the pastor we need. He is not from New York, but everything about him says “I know Brooklyn.” Dolan has that singular quality that I call “American genius…” He speaks openly and honestly about the faults and weaknesses and wounds of the church, but he is able to remind us, too, of the transcendental glory of “the supernatural family of faith” that is espoused to Christ-in-Glory, Christ-in-Sorrow, Christ-in-Us. He says he aims to be “a happy bishop” and that “happiness attracts.” Yes, it does, powerfully.
We’re going to see renewal with this bishop. We’re going to see growth, energy, vocations. We’re going to see real hope. Real change. The “world” is going to recognise it, and the “world” is not going to like it.
The city is embracing him quickly, and he is giving it a big bearhug, right back.
We have a pastor. Thanks be to God!
And thank you, Pope Benedict. You prayed with us, and listened to us, treated our wounds and took our measure when you were here just exactly one year ago. And by the grace of the Holy Spirit, you gave us precisely what we needed.
More thoughts on the installation – and the abortion-Obama obsessed press – later.