Homily – 27th Sun. OT A October 5, 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.

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