Archive for October, 2008

Homily — 29th Sun. OT A Oct. 19, 2008

Tuesday, October 21st, 2008

Homily – 29th Sun. OT A                Oct. 19, 2008

As the big election gets closer and closer, the Church this Sunday gives us in the Gospel this familiar saying of Jesus to reflect on:  Render unto Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and to God what belongs to God.

Caesar and God, Church and State — two things that have had an interesting relationship from the beginning.

I’m reminded of a story I heard about two brothers who were long time politicians, and who were both infamous in their city for their corrupt practices and ties to organized crime.

One of the brothers died, and although neither of the two had stepped foot in a Church for years, the brother of the deceased went to see Father O’Malley, of St. Mary’s the biggest Church in the City, to arrange a Funeral Mass.

The brother said to the priest “Father, I want you to get up in the Pulpit at the Funeral, and say to everyone that my brother was a saint.  If you agree to do that, I’ll give a $100,000 donation to your Church.”

Father O’Malley, thinking of the moral ramifications of doing such a thing, but thinking also of all the bills he could pay with the donation, prayed about what he should do.

Finally, he said “OK, I’ll do it.  Give me the $100,000 up front, and you have my solemn word that at your brother’s funeral I’ll say in my sermon he was a saint.”

So the day of the Funeral arrives and the Church is packed.  After the Gospel, Fr. O’Malley gets up in the pulpit and begins his Sermon.

“My brothers and sisters” he says, “we all know well the kind of man this man in the casket before us was in life.  We all know that throughout his life, this man was . . . .a thug, a lying cheat, a leech on the taxpayers, and a crook . . . .

“But, compared to his brother here, he was a Saint!”

Over the past 2000 years, since it’s very inception, the Catholic Church has had to coexist and interact with the State, and the State has had to coexist and interact with the Church.

Even at the Birth of Jesus, the Angels had barely finished singing Glory to God in the Highest when Three Kings are seen kneeling before the manger in homage; while another King, King Herod, sends out soldiers to destroy the baby Jesus and His Kingdom by massacring all males 2 years and under.

But Herod failed to destroy Christianity, as did Nero and the other Roman emperors fail to destroy it, as did the Barbarian Rulers of the Dark Ages fail, as did the French Revolutionists in the 18th Century, Napoleon Bonaparte in the 19th Century, and  Hitler, Stalin and the Masonic government of Mexico in the 20th Century fail to destroy the Catholic Church.

On the other hand, there have been many other Governments that have been good, even very good, to the Church down through the centuries; governments that haven’t hindered and even at times helped the Church in her mission of Preaching the Gospel to all nations.

As Baptized Christians, each one of us has a dual obligation towards Caesar and God, Church and State.   We in a sense have dual citizenship, we pledge allegiance to the flag of our country, and to the Republic for which it stands, and we also pledge allegiance to the Papal Flag and to the Catholic Church for which it stands.

We obey the law of our Country, and pay taxes to Caesar, and we obey the law of Christ and pay tithes to our Parish and alms to the poor.

And our Catholic Faith doesn’t get in the way of our being good citizens or even good civil servants of the country we live in, for our Faith tells us to live morally upright lives, to pray for those in authority, and to honor and obey all the just laws of one’s country.   In doing all these things just mentioned, we are fulfilling Jesus’ command to Render unto Caesar what belongs to Caesar.

But we are sometimes called as disciples of Christ to respectfully speak out against unjust laws or unjust legislation put forth by the State, and to work for the overturning of these unjust laws for the good of our country.  And if ever we are faced with a situation where our Faith commands us to do one thing, and an unjust law of the State commands us to do another thing, we cannot in conscience go against our faith by obeying that unjust law.  As St. Peter says in the Acts of the Apostles, in some circumstances We must obey God rather than man, for we must at all times Render unto God what belongs to God.

At  every celebration of Mass throughout the world, the Church in the Prayer of the Faithful prays for Civil Leaders, faithful to St. Paul’s command in 1 Tim. 2 that Prayers, petitions, and thanksgivings be offered . . . .for rulers and for all in authority.

May we join our prayers of petition and thanksgiving to the Church’s prayers of petition and thanksgiving for our government and its leaders, and may Jesus give us the graces we need to be faithful citizens of both our Country and our Holy Catholic Church.

(That way, Fr. O’Malley will really have good things to say about us at our funeral!)

Homily — 28th Sun. OT A October 12, 2008

Monday, October 13th, 2008

Homily — 28th Sun. OT A October 12, 2008

This Sunday, the Church gives us an appropriate second reading from St. Paul.

Paul says I know how to live in humble circumstances; I also know how to live with abundance. In every circumstance and in all things I have learned the secret of being well fed and of going hungry, of living in abundance and of being in need.
St. Paul, being a tent maker by trade, had times when business was good and other times when it wasn’t so good. At times, both his tent making business and his work as Apostle to the Gentiles were both doing miserably as people rejected both his tents and the Gospel. But even in times of great financial hardship, St. Paul didn’t get worried, because he knew the secret.

The secret St. Paul knew was knowing Jesus Christ. And if we as individuals and as a society have Jesus, we are gloriously rich, no matter what the economy is doing. But if we as individuals and as a society don’t have Jesus, we are pitifully poor, no matter how financially well off we are.

This current economic crisis is an opportunity for us as individuals and as a society to draw near to Christ. This Sunday’s Psalm is the famous Psalm 23, the Lord is my Shepherd. We all know the Psalm, but how much do we really live it?

Even though I walk in the dark valley, I fear no evil.
You are at my side with your rod and your staff
that give me courage.

Surely our country is at present lost in a dark and scary valley of economic crisis, a dark valley we don’t know the way out of. And it could be that in the week’s (months? years?) to come, we will descend lower and lower into this dark and scary valley.

Do we, like the Psalmist, fear no evil as we descend into this dark valley? Are we keeping Jesus the Good Shepherd at our side, with the Rod and Staff of His commandments and Holy Cross to encourage us?

Whatever the future holds, God will get us through it, so long as we let Christ be our Good Shepherd.

And maybe some of us, maybe our country needs to take this crisis as a wake up call. In today’s parable we see people who were so concerned with earthly things, with business matters, with real estate problems, that they ignored their King’s summons to be present at the wedding of the King’s Son. Notice how Jesus ends this parable: with the King destroying these people’s city.

And certainly over the past few years, our society has been very much like those people in the parable — ignoring God’s call to live a life of faith, to practice their religion, to be present every Sunday at the Wedding Feast of the Lamb, the Holy Eucharist.

May this shake up bring our nation back to the glorious riches of a life in Christ.

Finally, we see in the second part of the parable a man at the wedding feast who neglected to clothe himself in a wedding garment fitting for such a great occasion. Jesus isn’t so much trying to establish a dress code for Sunday Mass as He is teaching us we must be clothed in the graces given to us at our baptism.

We must be clothed in the Faith of Christ, believing and walking by the light of our Catholic faith;

We must be clothed in the Hope of Christ, the Hope that our sins are forgiven, that God’s grace will always be their to help us, and that Heaven awaits us if we are faithful;

and finally, one who is rich in Christ must be clothed in the Charity of Christ, must have a love for God above all things and a love for our neighbor, especially the weakest and most vulnerable around us.

During this Respect Life month, we are mindful especially of the charity we should have for the innocent humans whose lives are destroyed daily by abortion in our country at a rate of over 3500 a day, a million a year, 90% of whom pose no threat at all to the life or health of the mother.

As the little “Pro Life across America” poster we have in the sanctuary says “Our Hearts were beating 18 days (after conception).” May we, in this time of economic crisis, not forget the greatest moral crisis our country currently faces; may we do all we can to protect all innocent beating hearts from harm.

And so as we partake of this Eucharist, which mystically unites us here on earth to the Wedding Feast going on Heaven between Jesus the Lamb and His Bride the Church, may Christ clothe us with holiness and teach us the secret St. Paul knew of living in accord with God’s glorious riches in Christ Jesus.

Homily – 27th Sun. OT A October 5, 2008

Wednesday, October 8th, 2008

Homily — 27th Sun. OT A                October 5, 2008

The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.  This verse of Psalm 118 is quoted by Jesus at the end of today’s Gospel Parable.

In the preceding Parable, Jesus associates himself with the Son sent by the vineyard owner, who is rejected and killed by the tenants, even though the vineyard owner had been very good to the tenants, having himself planted and fenced off the vineyard for the tenants, and having with his own money built the wine press and the tower for them.

And in a similar way, Jesus also associates himself with a stone rejected by a group of people building a great building, a stone which ends up being used as the corner or foundation stone of an even greater building which outlasts the original.

These two parables remind us that, due to our fallen nature,  we as individuals and as a people can very easily become like those tenants and those builders — we can very easily fail to show gratitude to God for His blessings, and fail to make Jesus the foundation of our lives and of our society.
This Sunday, the Church in America observes Respect Life Sunday, and this entire month of October is Respect Life Month.

We are reminded this Sunday that Jesus’ teaching of respect for the sanctity and dignity of all men and women, from natural conception to natural death, is the cornerstone and foundation not only of our Church, but also of our society and of all civilization.

If we as individuals, or as a society, reject the notion that man and woman are made in the image and likeness of God and therefore have inalienable rights which must be upheld, we reject it at our own personal peril and at the peril of our civilization.

Respect for Human Life we believe to be two fold.  As God is both Just and Merciful towards us,  we must be Just and Merciful towards others, and the laws of our society must also reflect the Justice and Mercy of God.

And one of the most fundamental laws of Justice is that an innocent human life should be protected from harm or exploitation.   Laws that fail to protect the unborn child from abortion, or the sick and elderly from euthanasia, and laws that sanction and fund the exploitation of new human life through cloning or embryonic stem cell research are all unjust laws that can never be justified; they are laws that reject the very foundation our civilization is built upon.

And so it is most important that as we build a society for future generations to inherit, that we do not reject Christ’s teaching on the justice owed every human life.

But while it is most important that we be just as individuals and as a society, it is also important that after being just toward the innocent, we are also merciful toward the guilty.
Justice demands that we respect and protect all innocent human life, and that we oppose murder, abortion, slavery, and euthanasia.   But mercy demands that we be merciful to all non-innocent human life.

And from this Law of Mercy, the Church teaches that the Death Penalty should be rarely if ever used in our modern world, even though strict justice would demand capital punishment for a certain crime.

From this Law of Mercy, the Church teaches that immigrants who out of duress and poverty in their native land have broken the law and entered a neighboring country illegally be treated mercifully and  not according to strict justice.

And so the challenge facing us is not to reject either foundation stones, the most fundamental foundation stone of justice to all innocent human life, and also the very important foundation stone of mercy towards the guilty.

May we as individuals and as a society not reject, but accept wholeheartedly the moral teachings of Christ, that we may truly build a culture of life and a civilization of love that will last for generations to come.