Bishop Edward M. Rice recently celebrated with Mercy Springfield and the Sisters of Mercy on their 125th anniversary of serving the first patient for Mercy health. To follow is his homily on the historical occasion:
Feast of the Dedication of St. John Lateran
Today’s celebration of the 125th Anniversary of Mercy Hospital coincides with the liturgical Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica in Rome.
St. John Lateran is the cathedral for the bishop of Rome. As Pope, he has St. Peter’s. But as a bishop he has the Lateran. And it is referred to as the Mother Church, the Head of all Churches in the city of Rome itself and throughout the world. As such, in remembering its dedication, it is a sign of love and unity for the Holy Father and his role in the Church.
The first reading, from Revelations, describes the life-giving waters flowing from the foundation of the temple. Of course, we can make the immediate analogy of the waters of baptism, flowing from the Church. And St. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians takes that image of a building and applies it to the People of God. “You are God’s building,” with Christ as the foundation. We can recall the words of the prophet, “Unless the Lord build the house in vain do we labor.” Paul challenges us to be living temples. And, just as we expect the church to be a place of holiness and prayer, so too each of us.
Enlivened with the Spirit we are called to be living stones, building up the temple. In our work, in our thoughts, words and actions we are to reflect the glory of lives pleasing to God. This institution has had many transformations over the past 125 years. As the needs grew, so did this institution. As advances were made, so too the expertise and professionalism of Mercy Hospital. And we can only speculate as to the advances in the medical field in the years to come. But, what should always be the foundation of this hospital is, as a reporter stated in 1891, “the ambitious cause of charity,” divine love.
This institution, similar to Mercy Joplin and Mercy St. Francis in Mt. View, is often the first and only encounter people have with the Catholic Church. You as an institution have a grave responsibility to convey the love of Christ, His healing love. To fail in this endeavor would be a failure of mercy.
Each of you has a role to play. Each of you is a living stone of this institution. It would be impossible for us to count the number of bricks used to build this medical center. And we really do not need to know. Because what is more important is the role that each of you plays in building up and continuing the mission of Mercy. When it comes to mercy and charity, every one of you contributes to the mission. In doing so you build up the Church! And as we come to the end of the Year of Mercy initiated on December 8 of last year, let us always remember that “mercy never ends.”