Saturday, July 4, 2015

Fourth of July Homily

[A homily given on the fourth of July. Some of the more "philosophical" elements, as opposed to the pastoral/moral ones, were added after the fact. This is not a verbatim homily, but rather an approximation]

Brothers and sisters,

On this feast day for our nation we are confronted with many troubling things. The Supreme Court's ruling on marriage, the issues of abortion, contraception, and health care (who provides it and how), are among the many things that affect our hearts and minds. Yet we must be careful, because it is all too easy to focus on ideologies and people.

Archbishop Cupich said it well, I think, calling all of us to respect our brothers and sisters and love them, whoever they are. This love and respect must be "real, not rhetorical." He also says that we must proclaim and preach the Gospel, "hold fast to an authentic understanding of marriage which has been written in the human heart, consolidated in history, and confirmed by the Word of God."

Gay marriage and abortion are contrary to Catholic faith and teaching, but proclaiming the Gospel with respect to life and marriage should not allow us to lose sight of the people to whom we preach.

For we know that there are many homosexuals who are abandoned, mistreated, bullied, and shunned for who they are or what they struggle with. Moreover, many homosexuals who are Christian, who seek to live chastely and grow in holiness are rejected both by Christians and this or that gay community.

Similarly, women who seek abortions are often times scared, coerced, abused, or abandoned.

People such as these need the Gospel as much as we do, and we are called to be Christ to them in a real fashion, not rhetorically.

On this Fourth of July, we celebrate the birth of our nation. It is our home, where our father and mothers of ages past came to seek shelter from persecution, to seek a better life, or to raise their families in peace. We know that just as our homes are not perfect, our home is not perfect. In Scripture today, we see that even the descendents of Abraham were far from perfect. Jacob tricked his father Issac into receiving his blessing, depriving his brother Esau from his birthright (cf., Gen 27:1-29). Esau hunted and exiled Jacob, but later, when Jacob (now Israel) returned, his brother reconciled himself to him. Through our many difficulties we too much seek peace and unity.

Thus, though we disagree with what our country calls justice and equality, we must love our country for our sake as well as theirs. Only love brings forth reconciliation, peace, and truth. Truth cannot be purchased in any other way. Nevertheless, we also recognize that there is no justice, faith, or love without God. We have already learned, again and again, that the justice of our nation is not Justice.

Our laws, Constitution, and courts interpret each other. The notion of equality is not dependent upon them but upon their interpretation, which comes and goes with the tide. We Christians must, all the same, strive for love, faith, and justice that is not temporary, but firmly rooted in God. We must do this is a real, and not rhetorical way.

This is done by concerning ourselves with those who are weakest among us, the sick, the elderly, the imprisoned, and the abandoned. The only equality and freedom that lasts is freedom in the love of Christ.

May God bless us all this day, and may we, His children, strive for unity and peace which can only result from a genuine and real love of Him who loved us first.