Monday, January 19, 2015

Homily for Sunday 18 Jan 2015 (II post Epiphaniam)

This weekend, I preached at the 7:30 EF Mass.  The Collect is the same as the OF:

Omnipotens sempiterne Deus, qui celestia simul et terrena moderaris, supplicationes populi tui clementer exaudi: et pacem tuam nostris concede temporibus. Per Dominum nostrum...

Almighty ever-living God, who govern all things, both in Heaven and on earth, mercifully hear the pleading of your people and bestow your peace on our times. Through our Lord...

Given this plea for the divine gift of peace, and the proximity to the awful anniversary of the repugnant Roe v. Wade decision this Thursday (1/22), I chose to preach on the obvious topic. The Epistle is Rom 12:6-16, and I expounded on the verse, "Let your love be without pretense. Hate the evil, adhere to the good."  The Gospel is Jn 2:1-11, the wedding at Cana, and I preached the verses, "Do whatever He tells you," and "His disciples believed in Him."  Here's my homily, as closely as I can reconstruct it.

All across the country, this weekend and this week, in different places, hundreds of thousands of
March for Life 2014
people will be marching for life.  I read this week, we now have over 80 Marches, Vigils, and Rallies for Life taking place in different cities.  And hundreds of thousands more, perhaps even millions more, will be praying along with them for an end to abortion.

I'm sure I don't have to recount for you the terrible evil that abortion is.  I'm sure we know that abortion kills an innocent human being, a baby in the womb; and that it destroys the spiritual and emotional health of mothers and fathers, of entire families; and that it corrupts our culture and our laws, and justifies other kinds of evils, too.  Abortion is the most urgent, the gravest evil of our times, and it falls to us, to our generations, to fight it.

Our readings today give us inspiration and courage to carry out this moral struggle.

St. Paul tells us, "Let your love be without pretense.  Hate the evil, and adhere to the good."  For us, this means that we must root out from our hearts the pretenses, the compromises, the little evils and sins that we sometimes indulge in.  We must make regular examination of conscience, and go to Confession often, so that our hearts will be full of pure love.  If our love is true and pure in the little things, the daily things, then we can also love without pretense in the larger things.  This is very important, because the world wants to paint us as hypocrites.  We need to be able to show that our love and our actions are consistent, so that our witness can reveal the love of Christ.

Orthodox icon of the wedding at Cana
In the Gospel, the beautiful story of the wedding at Cana, St. John gives the words of Mary, "Do whatever He tells you."  We might notice that these are the last words the Gospels record Mary saying.  Her whole life of perfect faith, perfect obedience to the Father, perfect love for her Son, is, in a sense, summed up in these words: "Do whatever He tells you."  We, too, then, need to strive to imitate our blessed Mother's perfections, by constantly "doing whatever He tells" us.  This points us to our vocation - for the great majority of us, the vocation to married life and to parenthood.  There are also vocations to priestly life and religious life, of course, but most of us are called to marriage.

And in our married life, we are called to a holy, loving union that is both chaste and fruitful.  What this means for us, then, is that we must reject contraception in our Catholic marriages.  Contraception leads to abortion, through what we can call the "contraceptive lifestyle."  Pope Paul VI showed us this link in his encyclical, "Humanae Vitae."  When we contracept, we reject the will of God in our marital union.  Whether we understand this or not, we are making ourselves the masters of life and creation.  It's only a small step, then, to try to make ourselves the masters of death, also, to set ourselves up in the place of God, choosing who can live and who will die. 

Those who work for the culture of death know this link, too.  For example, make people who have left working for Planned Parenthood report that they want to have access to public schools, to teach our teenagers (and even younger children) to use contraception, because they know that contraception will lead to abortion, and they want that business.

We need to challenge this root of abortion, and make our Catholic marriages once again free of contraception.

And the last verse of the Gospel today: "His disciples believed in Him."  We need to pray for an end

St. John at the foot of the Cross (14th c., St. Michael and All Angels Parish, Wales)
to abortion.  We need to have greater faith, that the love and mercy of Jesus Christ can overcome the evil of abortion.  We need to live with greater hope and deeper prayer, in all the spiritual aspects of this struggle.  If we live with growing love for Christ in the Church and in her sacraments, and if we live with greater fidelity to our vocations, we will also have greater faith.  We will have hearts more open to receive His infinite mercy, and also more open to the need, the longing, for that mercy in the world around us, where we can share it by our faithful and loving actions. 

The daily witness we give to the power of His mercy, like the many March for Life events, is the way to change minds and hearts about the evils in the world.  Our hope and our joy in Jesus Christ are not just for ourselves, they are for others.  We can only share as much of that mercy, hope, faith, and joy as we are open to receive from our Savior.  But as we grow closer to the Lord, our hearts are more open, and we can receive more and offer more to those around us. 

If we are faithful in these ways, we will make a difference.  We will overcome the evil of abortion, by the power of Christ's love.  Our progress may be slow, because the evil is great, but we will advance.  We have this hope.  We have this faith.  So let Christ work in us, ever more deeply, so that our witness may be stronger, to overcome evil in the world.

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