Homily – 29th Sunday (Year B)

Homily – 29th Sunday (Year B)

I, Michael, take you, Terri, to be my wife. I promise to be true to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health. I will love you and honor you all the days of my life.

These are the vows that every Catholic who is married in the Church must make before God. At the heart of them is the Gospel message we hear today. A life of service to someone other than ourselves, that is sacrificial even to the point of laying down ones life for them.

That is the reality of what marriage is. It can’t be changed by anyone. You can either choose to live a life divorced from reality or you can live according to reality. Up until this present age we called people who didn’t live according to reality insane. Today some are trying to call those people who live according to reality insane.

Do you think I am being dramatic? Let me tell you the way the vast majority of modern, enlightened people view marriage:

… In good times until they get bad, in health until you get really sick, and until I get bored with you or I stop feeling like I love you.

Some spouses go so far as to kill their spouses to be free of them. Sound radical? Surely these are the exception to the rule, surely the government will lock these people up. No, in fact they won’t. In some cases the government will order the spouse killed themselves and have the nerve to call it an act of love or a right to die.

It’s happening right now in the state of Florida. The state has ordered the execution of Terri Schiavo at the request of her husband.

Do you want to know her crime? She had the gall to collapse and suffer brain damage that disabled her for the rest of her life. She isn’t on a respirator or a machine to keep her heart or other organs functioning. Her crime is that she can’t feed herself and has to be fed through a tube by other people. Because of this she must die. The doctors call it a persistent vegetative state. It doesn’t matter that her eyes are open, that she can occasionally say words, that she recognizes her parents and expresses joy when she sees them. Because she can’t feed herself she is a vegetable. I guess that makes all babies, many people in nursing homes, and many Alzheimer patients vegetables. Isn’t that good news. Now we don’t have to wait for them to die we can call it an act of love and get the courts to order them killed. That’s something for you to look forward to as you get older. I hope you are nice to your children.

Her husband says it is because he loves her and she wouldn’t want to live that way. Letís examine his love for her:

(from terrisfight.org) In a malpractice lawsuit, Terriís husband personally received over $300,000 for his loss of consortium. Terri was awarded $750,000 from this suit and an additional $250,000 from a separate malpractice lawsuit. The money was awarded to Terri for her care and rehabilitation and to be placed in a Medical Trust Fund. Terriís husband received his personal award money and Terriís medical fund money in early 1993. From the date he received the award money in 1993, Michael Schiavo has denied Terri any rehabilitation treatment. Michael Schiavo has confined Terri to a nursing home (currently, Terri is in a Hospice facility) where she is ‘maintained.’
Her husband has directed that Terri only be sustained in a nursing home which is contrary to the intent of the award money. Michael Schiavo has on two occasions unsuccessfully attempted to end Terriís life by instructing her caretakers not to medicate Terri for potentially fatal infections. The first occasion occurred less than nine months after her husband received the malpractice award money.

∑ Terri has no will. Should she die, her husband will inherit what is left of Terriís $750,000 medical fund.
∑ Terriís husband lives in a house with Jodi Centonze. He openly admits that he has been engaged to this women for over seven years, have recently given birth to a baby girl, and has announced plans to marry her when Terri is no longer alive. He canít divorce her because then he wouldnít get the money. Custody and money would go to her parents.
∑ Since receiving the award money in 1993, her husband has ceased and prohibited any new or aggressive treatment for Terri. He has only maintained Terri at a nursing home (currently, Terri is in a Hospice facility). He has totally ignored or denied rehabilitation therapy that could possibly assist Terriís recovery.

In good times and bad, I suppose those are only his good times and not hers. All the days of my life,.. I guess he will kill his spouse to get out of that one.

We shouldn’t be surprised. We have been killing those who can’t defend themselves for over 30 years through abortion. But that is a woman’s right to choose right? How dare the woman be inconvenienced for 9 months of her life because she made a choice to have sex. Who cares if her choice results in murder? Who cares if Mr. Schiavo’s does? Why should he be forced to be inconvenienced because his wife collapsed and suffered brain damage that got her paralyzed? How come he should have to suffer for that? The sad part is he doesn’t. Her parents are begging the courts for the right to take care of their child and feed her. Mr. Schiavo isn’t willing to let them. Terri must die because he loves her. We have seen how selfless that love is. This is what our courts tell us.

The courts, in Roe vs. Wade, ordered abortion based on something that didn’t exist in the constitution and now they call it a constitutional right. It’s ridiculous. It doesn’t exist in the constitution. Now the court is ordering the death of Terri Schiavo based on a hypothetical constitutional right that doesn’t exist.

When I grew up people who saw something that didn’t exist were considered insane. Now it is the people who refuse to see something that doesn’t exist that are considered insane.

So who is responsible for these judges that make these rulings that kill the innocent? We are. We are the ones that elect the politicians that appoint them. Our votes as a nation are votes for murder and death.

Wait a minute we say. We are not voting for abortion when we vote for pro choice candidates. We are voting for them because they are good for our state and for us and our family. Yes we are voting for what is good for us, And we are exactly like Mr. Schiavo. We vote for what is good for us no matter what the cost to others. We vote to allow murder so that we can line our pocket books and for our convenience. If someone has to die because of our choice the so be it because our freedom to choose is more important than someone elseís life. Our pocket books and what is good for #1 is more important than the fact that our vote might cause someone to be starved to death or ripped from their mothers womb and thrown in the garbage because she chooses not to be inconvenienced.

Are the words I am speaking too strong? After all, our scripture today speaks about the throne of mercy. It also says we will be shown the mercy we show others. Maybe we can change that part of Godís word like we changed the constitution. Maybe we can pretend the Gospel says things it doesn’t and doesn’t say things it does just like the constitution. Maybe we can vote on it and choose what God’s word says and what the truth is.

The Catholic Church doesn’t vote on what is true. We obey what is true. If you want to vote you need to find another church.

I don’t want to be the kind of person that serves myself no matter what it costs others and I don’t think most of you do either. But we must admit what we have done. We have elected leaders that have appointed judges that said a parent has no rights to care for their child and that child must be starved to death because her husband does not believe in sickness and in health for all the days of his life. We are responsible and we are responsible for the deaths of the 4000 children killed in our country every day because we vote for our choices at the expense of their lives.

We must repent of our actions. We must approach the throne of mercy and we can only do that on our knees. We must drink from the cup that Christ drank. We must serve others and not glorify ourselves.

To do that I propose the following to you. I propose that we suffer for, and with Terri Schiavo and her family. If she is to be starved to death then we will fast and pray. If she is denied food we will deny ourselves full bellies and we will offer that suffering for the conversion of our own hearts and those her murderers and the intervention of Governor Bush to stop this homicide.

I propose that we follow the rules of the Good Friday fast until Terri dies or until she is allowed to be fed again. That is: no meat, one full meal a day and two smaller meals that don’t equal a full one.

If you are physically or medically unable to fast then I propose you pray a rosary a day for these intentions.

If that is too much to ask can you at least do it on Monday.

These are not requirements. They are proposals. I intend to follow them myself beginning today.

The Gospel tells us we can serve ourselves or we can serve others. We can choose to live our lives for ourselves or we can offer them for others. We can vote whatís best for ourselves or what protects all people. We can choose to be great in the world’s eyes or we can choose to be Great in Christís.

We Americanís love our choices. The Gospel places a clear choice in front of us today. I Choose life. I Choose to let others live even if it inconveniences me. I choose to vote for people who will protect the rights of others especially those who canít defend themselves. I choose to pray and suffer with the Schiavo family. You too have to choose where you stand and what you stand for. The choice is yours. Choose well.

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21 Responses to “Homily – 29th Sunday (Year B)”

  1. Dana Christensen Says:

    You Rock!!! This is a great homily, I am interested to hear what kind of response you got from the congregation.

  2. Father Todd Reitmeyer Says:

    Thanks. I heard no negatives but that doesn’t mean they weren’t thinking it. Some people seemed to be pretty moved.

    Jesus Rocks and that is what he put on my heart. I am pretty stunned by the whole thing.

  3. Jo Says:

    As a middle aged Catholic, I am beginning to see such cause for hope in the wonderful new priests that are being ordained in recent years. God bless you always, Father Todd. This was a wonderful homily.

    Father, I have a question for you–what if a whole bunch of priests showed up tomorrow at that hospital together and wanted to give her Viaticum? What if one bishop, even one cardinal, could accompany them? Do you think the police would back down, or arrest them all?

    I have a priest here at my parish who is Chinese. He has risked his life to say Mass when he went back to visit his family there a few years ago. I remember him saying he HAD to get up and go if anyone ever called him on the phone and asked for Anointing of the Sick. He had promised, and he HAD to do this as part of his ministry. Isn’t there some way to stage a moral victory and through a show of numbers of ordained priests, get someone through that police line?

    When I heard this story this morning, I completely broke down. I feel like the persecutions have begun. I live in a police state, where we are no longer free to be practicing Catholics.

  4. John Says:

    I have no words to express my thanks for your message that is the Gospel: self giving love as our Lord showed us on the Cross. God grant us the grace and courage to live the way we know we ought, as our Church teaches, as our Holy Father exemplifies as well as blessed Mother Teresa. God bless you father and God help Terri and her family.

  5. Becky Says:

    Thank you.

  6. Fr. Shawn O'Neal Says:

    Thank you for your very brave homily. As fiery as it is, it comes truly as a result of discernment, as if for the sake of Jerusalem you would not keep silent.

    I will attempt to comply with the fast to the best of my abilties. I will certainly pray for Terri, for her family, and for the conversion of her husband and all those who are saying that they are helping her!

    Fr. Shawn O’Neal
    St. Joseph Catholic Church
    Bryson City, NC

  7. Monica Says:

    There are so many words and emotions elicited by the details of Terri’s situation and so many like her. We cannot however allow despair to be one. This situation is not helpless or hopeless. Everyone can take action within their own ability. I am an occupational therapist that has worked with patients with TBI for many years. It is obvious by the brief video that Terri was reacting to her mother. I have began fasting and I will pray the rosary. I urge all of you to write a living will with your lawyer ASAP!

    Thank You Father for your wonderful and informative Homily!!

  8. John T Patti Says:

    Praise the Lord Jesus. What a great sermon by this priest. We need more like him in the US. I am going to do my part and fast to the best of my ability and pray the rosary daily for Terry. We live in a sick world and I challenge all the catholics in our country to stop voting for thier pocket book and to start voting for Life. If we continue on this path this country will cease to exist as we know it. The late great Bishop Fulton Sheen researched that 19 out of the 21 great civilizations that ever existed deteriorated from within ( a fall from morality). Brothers and sisters we are living in that age now. May God have Mercy on us AMEN

  9. Father Todd Reitmeyer Says:

    Jo,
    I think your idea is a great one. I wish I could be part of it. I have had similar ideas myself. The really ironic thing is they are worried about her choking. Starvation is okay bot choking is not? He could always give her the precious blood (it contains the fullness of both species) and that wouldn’t choke her.

    This is monsterous.

  10. Carrie Says:

    If anyone wants to know where all of this is heading, look up the website for the “Church of Euthanasia” on the web. And brace yourself!

  11. Jeanne Says:

    Way to go!

    I live here in Tampa, across from the city where Terri is now.

    I will pray for all you do. Remember that. Don’t give up and keep truckin’ for God.

  12. Jeff Culbreath Says:

    Thank you, Father. I hope you don’t mind, but I’ve posted the entire homily on El Camino Real. God bless you.

  13. Fr Phil Bloom Says:

    Excellent! You have more courage than I do, but I did at least try to address the issue as best I could. http://geocities.com/Heartland/2964/29ordinary-b1.html

    I appreciated the way you asked people for a personal response of fasting. God bless!

  14. cathy Says:

    thank you Father. God Bless you. Your parish is certainly blessed to have you as their priest.

  15. Denise Says:

    Thank you Father. I didn’t see this until today, and I have not been fasting, but I am starting now

  16. Lynn Says:

    Thank you for your very inspirational homily, Father. Yours is the kind of leadership we need in the Church.
    Praise God for his protection of Terri; we continue to pray for her and all involved in this horrific situation. May the Lord heal our society of the evil that is so prevalent.
    Thanks be to God for the legislative action against partial birth abortion.

  17. Emily Says:

    You are absolutly right. I admire your courage to share what you believe with the public. Terri’s husband is nothing but selfish. His only interest is in his personal gain. He feels nothing towards the person he pledged to be with for the rest of his life. The state our country is in today is nobody’s fault but our own. I hope the court will be able to rule humanely and in favor of Terri and her family. May God be with them during this sick and selfish battle.

    I was totally blown away after reading your homily. My only regrets are not being at Mass to see the congregation’s reaction to the truth. Thank you and God Bless!

  18. Katie Says:

    Thank you so much Father for sharing Terri’s story with all of us. I was in church the day you told us of this and I felt so angry. I believe this is one of God’s tests, to pray for this man when he has lost his way, because we are Christians and that is what the Bible and the Church call us to do, forgive. But to also pray for Terri and her family, that God watch over them and guide her to his will, not Michael’s.

  19. Monica Marie Says:

    It’s distubring to see the evil in this world but as Christians we must stand up against it. Results will come, prayers will be answered. I have begun fasting today. My prayers are with Terri.

  20. Margaret McCarthy Says:

    Finally, a priest who has courage– thank you! Why hasn’t Bishop Lynch of Terri’s diocese been present at the hospice? Why hasn’t he spoken out at his cathedral, in the media?

    We can’t stop praying for Terri (and the thousands of others who are in the same situation). Abortion has truly been the start of the slippery slope — we had no idea how sharp the incline of the slope would be.

    Notice how Christians are now routinely referred to as “fanatics” by spokesmen in the media? Is this the start of persecution? Once we were the majority opinion in this country and now we are dangerous fanatics.

    Maybe we “fanatics” need to show the chattering classes how numerous we are by voting our consciences.

  21. Anne Lassiter Says:

    Dear Fr. Todd: your homily struck a deep cord with me, especially since I lost my Husband 8yrs ago following a oxygen cut-off when he dislodged his tracheotomy tube. He was unattended at the time and the care hospital hadn’t allowed me to hire a nurse for him because he was on his way to recovery following over two months in the intensive care unit at Seton. I will give a fuller story at some other time but meanwhile–the apologists for death are getting it all wrong and you are correcting it admirably. 1) She’s alive! 2)She’s wanted! 3)Who profits? 4)The rule of law is being replaced by the rule of the unjust judge and this is a specific challenge to that which must be incorporated into our legal thinking with ALL of its implications ranging from the appointment of judges to precedents. The God-given moral law is being hidden by relativism. “She’s not that lively; the video was falsified; they (parents) just want money;she wants to die; she’s being allowed to die”. All of it just to disguise that she is being killed and is a human life!

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