Homily – 5th Sunday of Easter (Year C)
What a week? Our nation watched, for the most part in horror, as the pictures of horrible abuses came across our screens and papers. Some, out of a perverted sense of vengeance, a bigoted racism, or hoping to get political mileage out of the pictures actually were glad to see the tragic pictures of the human rights abuses going on in Iraq at the hands of our own military. As a Priest of Jesus Christ, as a Navy Chaplain, and as a man, I was sick to my stomach. Some thought it justice for what was done to our civilians; an eye for an eye. Some thought they were appropriate techniques to “soften up” then enemy. Others said it was justice for trying to kill our soldiers. It was none of these things. It was Barbarism, and it was evil. It was completely against what Jesus taught in the Gospel today. It was not the behavior of Christians and disciples of Christ.
Christ clearly tells us in our Gospel today that we must love one another as he loved us. When people challenged them on this, about who was our neighbor, he told the Story of the Good Samaritan. Clearly that means we must love all people as Christ did. Christ died for every human being on the planet: Not just those who liked him; Not just those who were nice to him; Not just those from the same country as him or of the same race as he was. Some refuse to accept his grace but it doesn’t change his love for them. True justice establishes a right relationship between peoples and that relationship is one of Christian love. Am I my brothers keeper? Cain asked. The answer is yes. True justice demands that we treat all God’s children as his children. We must treat them with love. This is the measure of our discipleship. Jesus gave us two commands. We must love the Lord our God with our whole heart, mind and strength. But we must also love our neighbor as ourselves. To fail in one, is to faith in both. Christ said that he who says he loves God but hates his neighbor is a liar.
Most of us are shocked and horrified that human beings can be leashed like dogs and treated in other, more graphic, ways that dehumanizes them. We can’t believe that something like this can happen. I am horrified at the actions but I am not shocked by them. I actually think they are the fruit of our culture that we have pursued for over 40 years. Our Holy Father calls it the “Culture of death”. It is a culture which sees people as objects and without dignity. We can view them for our pleasure through pornography, or immodest clothing. We can use them for our pleasure through fornication and contraception. We can kill them when they become inconvenient for us or cost us too much money through Abortion or Euthanasia. We live in a culture that says our most fundamental human right, the right to life, can be taken away if it inconveniences someone else or causes them hardship. We live in a culture in which someone who calls themselves a Christian can vote to allow the murder of innocent children in order protect their financial or political interests. Money, comfort, and standard of living is more important than others lives if it would cause us hardship to protect them. What a contrast between that and the Apostles in the reading: When they said “It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships to enter the Kingdom of God.” Indeed it was. Every 12/13 of them died for their faith in Jesus. All we have to do is vote in such a way as to protect our most innocent and defenseless by outlawing abortion and euthanasia. If we are willing to kill the innocent for politics, it shouldn’t surprise you at what we would do to criminals and our enemy. We are reaping what we have sown for over 40 years. If you sow in a the flesh you will reap a harvest of corruption the scripture says. It doesn’t surprise me in the least to see that the Word of God is true and being fulfilled before our eyes.
The past does not determine the future. Only we can do that. The choices we make from this day forward, with God’s grace, can change a culture of death into a culture of life. We choose what seed we sow. And in doing so we choose what harvest we reap. As a priest of Jesus Christ I stand before you today and offer propose to you two seeds I think we should plant.
The first is obvious. We need to protect the most innocent of our society. We need to say that our society will not allow our children and aged to be killed for any reason. We can choose to do that. That is what a vote is. It is a choice. In our society it is a choice for life or a choice for death.
Let me show you that choice clearly. Fathers and mothers: How would you feel if someone murdered your innocent children and babies. When their murderer came up for trial he told the town that if they would let him go free then he would promise them subsidies for their farms, jobs, highways and prestige before the nation. The town voted. They voted to take their jobs, highways and prestige. They said that was more important than the lives of your children. The murder goes free and can murder again as long as the bring home the pork. What would you think of those town members. What would you want to do to them. Do you really think they have the right to choose that? Is your blood boiling because mine is.
Now let me simply substitute God for you and you for the town. What do you think God’s reaction is to those who vote to kill his children in order that they can have subsidies, highways, and prestige. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another. We need to choose, we need to vote to be a culture of life. Just because it is someone else’s children doesn’t make it okay to let them be killed.
The second point is a little more subtle. This weekend we celebrate mothers day. We honor our mothers. But we live in a society that hates women, children and motherhood. That is why our culture looks down on stay at home mothers. A woman who stays at home with her children is thought to have failed. She isn’t successful unless she has a career. We think motherhood is such a hindrance that a woman should be able to choose to avoid it even if it means killing her child. We need to change the way we see motherhood.
Being a mother is one of the most precious vocations that God has given us. Jesus spent 33 years on this planet. 30 of them were with his mother, 3 of them were with us and we killed him. The holiest person ever, past, present and future, was a mother. So important was motherhood that in his dying agony from the cross Jesus commended his mother into John’s care and commended us into the Blessed Virgin’s care. The devil wages war against the woman in Genesis and in Revelation. Our society is waging a war against women with pornography, immodest clothing that views women as an object, and abortion which causes a woman to kill her own child.
We need to fight back. The weapon I propose to you is that of the Rosary. We need to pray the rosary more and especially as a family. We need the mother of Christ to lead us to her son and to a greater appreciation of the gift of motherhood. Mary is the model of motherhood for all Christian mothers. We need to ask her prayers for us. We need to go back to the tradition of praying the family rosary.
To our first communicants I ask your help. Your prayers are especially powerful. I would like to ask you to pray for your mothers and all mothers. Children ask your parents to pray a rosary in your family today for your mothers and all mothers. Jesus loves the prayers of children. Please help us by your prayers.
Our culture is at war. It is the war between death and life. Everything is at stake. But in the end we get to choose the harvest we reap. The harvest we reap is the result of the seed that we choose to sow. The choice is yours. Choose well.
Homily – 5th Sunday of Easter (Year C)