Homily – 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B)
The last line in today’s Gospel is sometimes translated “He makes the deaf hear and the dumb speak.” I hope that wasn’t a prophetic commentary on my homilies.
In all of our readings today we hear of God’s love for those who suffer afflictions of one kind or another, blindness, deafness, muteness, poverty etc. In Jesus’ time, and I would suggest even in our own, these people are looked down upon. In the Old Testament times they were socially looked down upon as well. They thought physical deformity was the result of personal sin or the sins of ones ancestors. That is why in the Gospel of Matthew the Pharisees are scandalized when Jesus tells a man his sins are forgiven instead of rise and walk for only God could forgive sins. Little did they know. In every instance a sinner, or one who suffered, was looked down upon and considered at times no better than an animal.
Jesus spent time with sinners, those cast out, healed the sick. Often times he did this to the scandal of those around him. He had a preferential love for the poor and he chose to surround himself with those cast out. He rooted for the underdog. Why?
In everything Jesus did he tried to communicate to us the dignity of the human person. Each and every person is created in the image and likeness of God and has infinite worth. The Scripture tells us that when God created the universe, the heavens, the earth, the animals, the day and night, the seasons he created them good. But when God created man he saw that it was VERY good. This is the fundamental truth about who you are. From all eternity God planned each every one of you. No one is an accident. He planned you, and he loves you no matter who you are or what you have done. No one can take that away from you. How rich or poor you are, how good looking or not so good looking, tall or short, athlete or not, gifted and talented, O’Gorman or Roosevelt…all these things do not matter a bit to God for he shows no partiality and as the second reading tells us neither should we. The only things that give you worth are the facts that you were made in God’s image and likeness and he loves you. And those facts alone are enough to make you worth more than the entire created universe. If anyone tells you different, they are a liar. And the world we live in is full of liars.
Every major battle the Catholic Church is engaged in with our culture is centered around the issue of the Dignity of the Human Person. The Catholic Church seeks to uphold this dignity and our culture seeks to deny it. John Paul II has named it the war between the Culture of Life and the Culture of Death. Let me give you a few examples.
There are some in our society who would say that at a certain point a human life has no worth. Life is not worth living. If someone is paralyzed, in a lot of pain, or to much of a burden for the family to care for then they should be put to death. Every person has worth because God loves them and they are created in his image. These facts do not change because a person requires more care than they once did or for any other reason. A person isn’t a commodity whose worth is based on what they can or can’t do, how old they are, or how much money it costs to care for them. You can’t get rid of them because they are inconvenient, or expensive. They are children of God and must be treated as such even if it requires heroic virtue on our parts. Jesus did not kill the lame, he healed them. We should too.
Designer Babies
In some circles this is called genetic trait selection. A person is not an object that is custom made to order. They are a person. To treat them as you would if you were ordering a new car is to treat them as an object and not a person. If a couple is so vain that they want to set conditions on eye color, hair color, what sex a child is then they have no business being parents. A baby is not a thing to satisfy a warped desire of its parents. A baby is a person to be loved no matter what. They are a gift from God. Design is the job of the Creator not of the one who receives the gift.
Selective Abortion
With the increasing ability to test children’s genetic makeup while they are still in the womb comes the temptation to kill the child if it doesn’t meet our standards. Seem far fetched? It is happening right now in other countries. Many in China, if they find out the child is a girl will have an abortion. Parents in other countries are doing the same to “Choose” the sex of their child. It isn’t shocking to the pro choice crowd. That is what they stand for. Others will abort if they find out their child might have birth defects. Basically they say that that person isn’t worth loving or caring for so they will kill them and try again. They treat the person as an object to meet their desires rather than a person loved by God.
This is the war we are engaged in. There are many more examples but I will save them for another time. Pro Choice people believe they should be able to choose the value of other people. That is a lie, and the world is full of liars.
The value of each and every person is established from all Eternity and established by God. It is unchangeable. A perfect, all powerful, and all knowing God created each and every one of us. That means you are not a mistake. God could have made you different but he didn’t. He made you as you are. He is all knowing and knows what is best and still he made you the way you are. You have value not because of what you do or how much you have or don’t have. You have value because of who you are. And everyone around you has that value too. It isn’t determined by you what someone else is worth. It is determined by God and we should show no partiality as God says.
Each and every one of us is very good and has dignity and worth because God created us in his image and likeness. If you understand that, and I mean really understand it, then it will change your life forever. It certainly did mine and I would never go back to the lies our society tells us we should believe. That is death. I Choose life. How about you?


6 Responses to “”

  1. Mark McGlaughlin Says:

    Fr. Todd, Happy Feast of the Birth of Mary (Mon., Sept. 8). I would like to wish you and your readers a prayerful day. Mark

  2. Laura K. O'Tillin Says:

    Dear Father Reitmeyer, As we commemorate today (Monday) the Feast of the Birth of Mary, I was contemplating our Spanish-speaking brothers and sisters who have come to the United States in recent years. It seems to me that they can teach us numerous truths, but three come to mind today: a.) the dignity of preborn life still in the womb; b.) that every instance of the marital act is to be a sacred exchange of openness to human life and to love between the husband and wife; c.) that Our Blessed Mother Mary is not some distant celebrity but rather a tender “Mamma” who would willingly die for her sons and daughters. I pray with you, Father Reitmeyer, that these Spanish-speaking persons will stir up within our country a desire for authentic holiness. HAPPY FEAST DAY, FATHER REITMEYER!

  3. Chris Oles Says:

    I agree with you Laura, but I must confess my bewilderment that the hispanic community is in large part affiliated with the pro-choice, anti-Catholic-family Democratic party. I believe that the hispanic community in this country represents a sleeping giant in American Catholicism and I pray that very soon their voice will be heard on such critical social issues.

    Fr Todd, your homily is beautiful and timely. It must bring true sorrow to the heart of God that we so clandestinely toss aside our dignity. We must truly pray for a renewed respect for the dignity of every human person – when a society lacks this core value, we see what the result will inevitably become. In 2 days we will remember the most “tragic” event in American history. When death is celebrated, in any form, only death can result, and that indeed should give us pause.

  4. Tom Says:

    Chris, perhaps the Hispanic “community” taken as a whole, but I am convinced that the majority of individual Hispanics, especially the practicing Catholics, are with the Church.

  5. Jim Says:

    Fr. Todd, Today is Sept. 11th. I invite you and your readers to pray the “Hail, Mary” with me for the Happy Repose of the Immortal Souls of those killed in the terroist attacks in the U.S. two years ago on this day. MAY THEY REST IN PEACE.

  6. Mary Says:

    Dear Father Reitmeyer, Did you know that tomorrow (Friday) is the Liturgical Memorial of the Holy Name of Mary? I am very excited about this Feast. That means that in one week’s time (September 8-15), we will have three Feasts of Our Lady: a.)Birth of Mary (September 8); b.) Holy Name of Mary (September 12); c.) Our Lady of Sorrows (September 15). Pretty neat, uh? I pray for you, Father.

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