Homily – 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A) NFP Week
Last week we spoke of the blessing and need for the gift of the infallibility of the Pope. The Devil is 95% truth, it is the other 5% that gets you. In a world that is becoming much more confused about morals we need more than ever the clear guidance of truth. Like Solomon we should seek out, and even beg for, the gifts of wisdom and understanding so that we are able to make right decisions in life and be faithful to God. It is a constant battle we must fight against ourselves. The Devil is constantly trying to get us to listen to his voice rather than God’s. Some people, sadly, do choose to hear what they want to hear and believe what they want to believe. As God said last week they have ears but they refuse to hear because if they did they would be converted. These are the people who allow the seeds of false teaching to be sown in their hearts so that they can convince themselves it is ok to do what they want to do rather than what the Bible or the Catholic Church teaches. One of the areas the devil attacks most viciously with his lies is the sacrament of marriage.
The Church teaches that the sacrament of marriage symbolizes Christ’s relationship with His Church. It is a relationship that is generous, self sacrificing, passion filled and fruitful in love. If the Devil can sell us a lie about marriage then he can corrupt the way we view our relationship with God. The devil wants us to choose his version of the world rather than Gods. He is constantly seeking to get us to reject God’s truth for our own desires or beliefs. If he does that successfully then he gets us to reject God and we become his for all Eternity. In order to avoid that we must choose to hold fast to what God has passed on to us. So we turn now to what God teaches, through the Church, about marriage.
First and foremost we must understand that marriage was created by God. The legal or political versions of marriage came well after. Since the very beginning of the world God instituted the sacrament of marriage. That means that it was created by God and can only be defined by him although political, legal and social voices often try to pervert that definition for their own ends. But we are not to listen to these false voices… Marriage belongs to God alone and we are to listen to God.
God established Marriage as a covenant. That means it is a bond between God and man that creates a family. The Covenant is not sealed just between a man and a woman. It it sealed between one man, one woman, and God himself. The temptation today is for people to leave God out of it. The couple might have their wedding in a Church but too often they leave God out of their day to day relationship and decision making. The devil convinces them they can succeed at marriage without God’s help.
Why it the devil so interested in attacking marriage? There are many reasons. One very important one is that Marriage gives us a very clear picture or understanding of the Trinity. A marriage lived according to God’s teachings helps the couple and the world to understand God in a deep and unique way. Marriage lived faithfully reflects clearly the Divine Life of the Trinity. If the Devil can distort our image of marriage then he can keep us from knowing God fully and truly.
In the Divine Love of the Trinity the Father Loves the Son completely and gives himself completely to the Son. The Son receives the love of the Father completely and returns that Love completely. The Love between them is so real that it is actually a third person the Holy Spirit.
Marriage reflects this in its nature and in the gift of conjugal love. In the marital act the Husband loves the Wife completely and gives himself completely to her. The wife receives the love of the husband completely and in turn gives her self completely to him. The Love between them is so really that it actually can become a third person with God’s help. In this way the sacrament of marriage becomes a witness to the Word of God’s complete, generous, self sacrificing fruitful love for us. It is this truth that the devil wants to replace with a lie. He attacks this is in persuading couples to have the marital act reflect something other than the Trinity so that it becomes a lie. One of the chief ways he does this is by seducing couples to use artificial contraception that disrupts the marital act and is not open to a third person. It becomes focused only on the couple and their desires. It is not sacrificial, it is not generous, it is not complete, and it is not fruitful. The use of artificial contraception perverts and corrupts the marital act so that it cannot reflect the love of God.
How does the devil convince people to do this? He does it by convincing them to believe lies. What lies? Here are some of them he convinces couples to believe: Children are a curse; children are bad and they prevent you from being happy; fertility is a curse; a woman’s fertility is something bad about her and it should be rejected and poisoned if need be; a woman is an object to be used for the man’s pleasure; we should actively work against God’s plan for our lives; God should not be included in our decision making as a couple; we should focus on the things of this earth and not the things of heaven.
If you presented these lies directly to a married couple who has chosen to use artificial contraception they might deny that they believe these things. But the devil does not do this directly. The Devil is 95% truth, it is the other 5% that gets you. Remember what I said last week. The devil is far smarter and much more subtle than we are. He gets us to deny God one teaching at a time. Let me show you how the Devil sells each of these lies to the contracepting couple.
Psalm 127 tells us: Children are a gift and blessing from the Lord. The fruit of the womb is a reward. Children are like arrows in the hands of a warrior. The warrior is happy when his quiver is filled with them. They shall not be put to shame when they fight the enemy at the gates. God tells us that children are a blessing yet the couple that uses contraception sees them as a curse, as something that should be avoided. Choosing to use contraception is choosing to tell God you don’t want his blessings and gifts. For them the fruit of the womb is not a reward but a penalty they seek to avoid. God says fertility is a reward, the devil says it is a curse. God says that children are like arrows in the hand of a warrior. The man who has many is happy. How many families are refusing to have large families? One or two children is enough for them. They believe they will be happier with fewer. That is not what God says. The Devil is 95% truth, it is the other 5% that gets you. In seducing a couple into believing they will be better off with contraception the devil gets them to reject God’s word.
The next lie is that a woman’s fertility is something bad about her and it should be rejected and poisoned if need be. A healthy woman, created in the image of God, is one who is fertile for a few days out of every month. Fertility is a natural healthy part of who she is. Yet contraception treats fertility as a disease. It rejects the health of the woman. It says that we must chemically poison that fertility or block it before she is acceptable to the man. It does not accept her completely for who she is but rejects a part of her that God created good. To become acceptable she must reject her natural God given gifts. She must make herself unhealthy. Barrier methods seek to reject the fertility and health of the man. Contraception does not see his fertility as a God given gift but as something that must be blocked and thrown away. When one person refuses to accept another completely then they cannot say that they truly love them. In fact they are using that person for their own purposes. Even if they both agree to use each other it still can not be called love. They are just using each other. It is always evil to use another person even if they agree to be used. Love does not reject any part of the beloved. It accepts them and rejoices in them. Contraception seeks to use another person not to love them. The Devil is 95% truth, it is the other 5% that gets you.
The next lie is that we should work against God’s plan and he should be left out of important decision making in the marriage. God created us, he knows and loves us and has a plan for our lives. That plan includes our bodies that were wondrously made. He gave us a natural way to work with him to be co-creators and to bring life into the world. There are only so many days that a woman is fertile every month. These can be known by visible signs. If we observe them then we are able to work with God to space pregnancies or delay them for important reasons. God’s plan also allows us to know when we can bring life into the world when we are ready. It is a God given plan designed by an all powerful, all loving and all knowing God. When a couple chooses to contracept they reject God’s plan for their lives. They say that they will be the master of their lives. God has no places in the decision making. Contraception seeks to put the decision only in the hands of the couple and to reject God’s plan for their lives. The devil is 95% truth, it is the other 5% that gets you.
The teaching against the use of artificial contraception is not new but has been with us from the beginning of the Church 2000 years ago. Even after Martin Luther left the Catholic Church the teaching did not change. Every single Christian faith spoke out against it until 1929. Then the Anglicans allowed its use. The pope warned them this was a dangerous step that perverted the sanctity of marraige. He warned that it would lead to abortion, divorce, violence, euthanasia and other horrors. Was he right? In the sixties the use of the pill became available and since then we have seen abortion on demand become legal including partial birth abortion. The divorce rate has sky rockted. Our children are shooting other children in school. And it is becoming legal to kill people who are old or infirm like Terri Schiavo and call it mercy killings. The Devil is 95% truth, it is the other 5% that gets you.
God reveals his truth for our lives through the Sacred Scriptures and the teachings of the Catholic Church. He does this so we may truly live free and happy as he intended us. He has a plan for us and that includes a plan for how we use our bodies and how we are not to use them. The devil tries to convince us that God is a liar because he wants to destroy us. He doesn’t do it openly. He does it in darkness. He sows the seeds of false teaching the slowly lead us to destruction.
Like Solomon we either seek God’s wisdom and understanding or we seek to believe what we want to believe. We either give everything we have to attain the Truth which is the perl of great price or we choose other things above the truth. Every teaching of the Church and scriptures is worth giving everything we have to live it out faithfully. If there is something you don’t understand please ask me to talk with you and allow me to show you the beauty of God’s plan for your lives. We will either seek God’s wisdom and understanding or we will refuse to hear and undestand so that we can believe what we want to believe. The choice is yours. Choose well.
Homily – 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A) NFP Week
Homily – 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A) NFP Week