07 November 2016

A truly seamless garment

We're told by many of our Catholic brethren who lean to the left that the Church errs in focusing too much on teaching against abortion. Of course abortion is bad, they say, but we can't be "one-issue voters." There are many important issues for Catholics to consider in the voting booth. 

True. There's racism, poverty, immigration, medical research using human embryos, human trafficking, and probably a dozen others.

But here's my question: why does the Church teach against sins like racism, violence, human trafficking, etc.? 

Racism violates the innate dignity of the human person.
Violence degrades the innate dignity of the human person.
Trafficking defiles the innate dignity of the human person.

The dignity of the human person is rooted in the imago Dei that each and every human person embodies. 

Is there a more horrific violation of the imago Dei that each person embodies than to be dissected with scissors in your mother's womb and sucked out through a tube?

The normalization of abortion as a simple medical procedure has made it possible for many of us to believe that killing is a viable (!) solution to most problems. 

Abortion is rotting our national institutions and destroying charity in the nation's heart. Abortion gives us permission to hate the Other -- the widow, the orphan, the immigrant, the refugee, the poor, the crippled, the veteran. It gives us license to look at those we are charged with loving and think, "You're a nuance. A useless eater. It would be better if you were dead."

The fabric of the Church's seamless garment is the sanctity of human life. Every other issue hangs on this.

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06 November 2016

We possess the hope of the resurrection

32nd Sunday OT
Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP

The Sadducees are up to some expert-level trolling this evening. They're trolling Jesus, hoping that he will take their bait and say something that triggers the crowd into ridiculing him. To understand how they are trolling Jesus we need to know that the Sadducees reject the doctrine of the resurrection. Once we know that, we can see why their question to Jesus about a woman married to seven brothers is nothing more than the first century equivalent of a snarky question in a website combox. What they want Jesus to say is that woman will be resurrected and married to all seven of her husbands. How ridiculous, they would reply! Obviously, this resurrection nonsense isn't to be believed. And on top of this rhetorical victory, the Sadducees would incite the crowd to turn on Jesus and see him as a poor, confused man who doesn't understand the scriptures. Unfortunately for them, Jesus reads their hearts and knows his scripture. His reply to their trolling builds on the Jewish scriptures and neatly puts to rest the Sadducees' objections to the resurrection. Jesus says, “Our God is the god of the living and dead.”* So, our question tonight is: Do you live as one alive in your God? 
How to answer that question. . .? Well, have you asked for and received God's mercy for sin? Have you stood witness to this mercy? Have you found yourself in His presence during prayer? Have you shown mercy to someone who's sinned against you? If so, then you are indeed alive in the Lord! How do I know this? Because we can do nothing good w/o Christ. We can't pray, celebrate the sacraments, give alms, fast, do charitable work, teach or preach; we can't even call him “Lord” unless he is with us. No one here this evening is here by chance. Each one of you – even the teens who may be here b/c mom and dad made them come! – each one of you is here b/c of the prompting of the Holy Spirit and your answer to that call. Those dead in the Lord, those who have chosen of their own free will to stay away from the Lord, for whatever reason, they are dead in the Lord. But even they have a god. B/c our God is the god of the living and the dead – those who are alive, dead, and spiritually dead. You are alive in the Lord and you dwell in the hope of the resurrection; therefore, how well do you live your life in the Lord? 
Way back in the 2nd century A.D., St. Irenaeus wrote, “Just as bread is no longer ordinary bread after God's blessing has been invoked upon it, the Eucharist is formed of two things, one earthly, the other heavenly: so too our bodies, which partake of the Eucharist, are no longer corruptible, but possess the hope of resurrection.” We are no longer corruptible. We possess the hope of the resurrection. The Eucharist is body and spirit – bread and Christ. So too are we body and spirit – flesh, bone and rational soul. And b/c we have the Eucharist – Christ's body and blood – we have the hope of the resurrection. NOT the possibility or the probability of the resurrection BUT the assurance that God has fulfilled all His promises; thus, we know – we know – that on the last day we will be resurrected. Whether you or I will be resurrected to glory or to condemnation is a matter of the particular judgment – that moment before the throne of the Great Judge when my life and yours will be examined and weighed against our promise to become perfect as Christ himself is perfect. Our hope, our expectation that God fulfills His promises sustains us always – even in these tumultuous days, especially in these tumultuous days. God abides. Christ abides. And we abide in them. In hope with faith through charity. Nothing can disturb our peace if we abide in God's love.

Speaking of disturbing our peace. . .you are probably as sick of this election cycle as I am. In my twelve years as a priest I have never addressed the specifics of an election from the pulpit. This election is different. You know that I can't/won't tell you who to vote for or against. That's not the Church's job as mother and teacher. I believe that this election is evidence of God's judgment on this country. I mean, when a nation turns its back on the Lord, He honors that decision and allows the consequences of that nation's sin to bear fruit. Our gravest national sin is abortion-on-demand. The Church has worked overtime in last 43 yrs to bear witness to the sacredness of life from conception to natural death. We have never wavered in bearing witness to the mercy of God in our ministries to the women and men who have procured abortions. Our shepherd, Archbishop Aymond, has declared that any business doing business with the new Planned Parenthood clinic will get no business from the archdiocese. He recently wrote to us, “The church has told us there are 'some things we must never do, as individuals or as a society, because they are always incompatible with love of God and neighbor. These intrinsically evil acts must always be rejected and never supported.' The bishops make it clear, that 'the direct and intentional destruction of human life from the moment of conception until natural death is always wrong and is not just one among many issues. It must always be opposed.'” Yes, there are other serious issues for Catholics to consider. Poverty, racism, immigration, tax reform. But no other issue comes close to getting at the fundamental truth of our existence as human persons: We are living creatures loved by our Creator. And abortion is now thought of as nothing more a medical procedure akin to an appendectomy – the removal of a useless, diseased organ. That abortion is legal, that we live in a culture that pushes women – esp. poor women – toward abortion, that we have a political elite who demand that all of us pay for these abortions – that any of this is real. . .is beyond scary when seen in the light of God's judgment on our nation. You must follow the dictates of your well-formed conscience, understanding that your conscience does not create moral truth but discovers it. 
May God have mercy on us and our nation.

* No idea why I included "and the dead."  I didn't preach it.

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