Last week we celebrated Mother’s Day. As we honored one parent lst week, Jesus honors His Father this week. In today’s Gospel Jesus speaks about how He is going to glorify God. That glorification is seen in how He suffered the injustice of crucifixion, but rose from the dead and beyond all who tried to silence Him. He spoke (and taught) something that in the 21st century…is absolutely, politically incorrect. Saying – do what I tell you and you will be assured of being correct, and you will find an eternity of happiness. He said: “I am the way the truth and the life”. Well…who does Jesus think He is? After all…is Pontius Pilate more the model of the 21st century…when – looking at Jesus…do we say: “What is truth?” In looking at what is going on in our nation at this point and all the debates about different issues, respect for life must be at the forefront. Whenever we compromise or deny the truth, the seeds of destruction and disunity are planted. We who have the treasure of faith are not obliged to convert those who are not in agreement with us…but we are challenged to speak up for the truth about human life. There is no candidate that is perfect on this issue as far as action is concerned. Some Catholic politicians at least pay lip service…while others are clearly supportive of abortion. I am not a one issue person, but when a basic issue is ignored there will never be peace in our hearts, our nation, and in our world. To look past the issue of abortion is to allow evil to continue to destroy children in the womb and scar the hearts, minds, and souls of all those involved. How could the German people stand by and allow 12 million people to perish in the concentration camps? How can we continue to stand by as almost 60 million children have been aborted since this practice was legalized on January 22, 1973? Evil has wreaked havoc for the past 43 years. How much longer will it prosper? Who will speak up? Politicians promise jobs, reform, lower taxes, refugee programs, and the defeat of ISIS and other evils. (They speak as if they are an omnipotent God.) But wherever innocent life is attacked or threatened and nothing is done, our national spirit deteriorates.
We are grateful to all veterans who have sacrificed their time and even their lives to defend who we are as Americans. Easter time energizes us to muster the courage to look at what is most important to our nation. When we glorify God by our lives as Jesus did, our national health and moral fiber are strengthened.
The Resurrection of Jesus has many aspects. One of them is rising above our fears, hesitancy, lethargy, apathy, and ignorance to live and speak the truth about human life. Life is a gift from God. You who are parents have blessed your children in the God-like way you created them and continue to love and nurture them. You are more fully alive with them than you would have been without them.
As Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the life…let us say: Thank you Father for the gift of life. Thank you for the gift of your Son Jesus. May my gratitude inspire and sustain me in doing everything I can to respect all people and to do all in my power to end abortion and everything else that harms, abuses, or threatens human life. Give me the courage and strength to live in your image each day.
Henri Nouwen said: “Prayer is the way to both the heart of God and the heart of the world.”How blessed, challenged, grateful, and humbled we are to live in God’s world.
Bishop Barron says that Catholic moral understanding is against the atheist claim that wise, compassionate people can—on their own—discover “the good” or moral truths without God. While there is certainly a moral capacity within all persons, and great Christian teachers from St. Paul to Pope Francis have pointed out that a non-believer can be a good person or have good intentions, Bishop Barron joins with the perspective of our faith in maintaining that, eventually, detaching God as a necessary component in morality will erode the moral fiber of a person, community or society. If, in the end, what is good is not rooted in objective truth but rather if the good is only determined by what I decide—or we decide—is good, in the end moral relativism will emerge (my morality—which is different from yours—is just as good as your morality) and people and society will drift away from what is objectively and truly good…what is moral. Without a connection to God, how can morality be determined solely by human minds and hearts that are afflicted by sin?
That Bishop Barron and our Catholic moral tradition is absolutely right about this can be easily confirmed by looking at what is going on in our society that appears to want to drift further and further away from God. Just consider a partial list: the erosion of married and family life, the growing legalization of euthanasia in the western world, the libertine approach to drug use, the celebration, normalization and focus on a variety of lifestyles that were previously not considered to be ideal, the continued assault on life in the womb, the growth of terror around the world…etc.
This past week was the March for Life in Washington, D. C. Even amidst heavy snow and very cold weather, hundreds of thousands of people from across our nation gave public witness to the essential value of life and the moral imperative to promote and protect it. As I have written in the past, the Church and its allies in the pro-life movement have made great progress in turning around the thinking of many people in our nation about abortion. We are winning the argument, even if there is a lot of work still to be done. There is hope! In the face of our society’s trend toward immorality and detachment from God, the Evil One would have us react with hopelessness, resignation and passivity. But to be rooted in God is to have hope; our connection to the Lord should inspire us to action: learn more about the Church’s moral thinking and teaching, enter into informed conversation about these things with others…pray…find more joy in goodness than fear in the face of faithlessness.
The learning part is important. St. Catherine of Siena said, “The one who knows more, loves more.” If we cannot create morality in our own minds, then it is important that we learn the truth given to us by the One who is the source and expression of all goodness and truth. Ignorance in the face of secularism is a sure recipe for surrender. How can we outwit the compelling logic of our godless age if we do not understand the reasons for our teaching? Join our Adult Formation classes to learn more! (Tuesdays, Hoven at 7:00 pm and/or Thursdays, Bowdle at 7:00 pm).
When Catholics ask “Why isn’t the Church doing something about fill in the blank?”, what they’re really asking is “Why aren’t the clergy doing something about that?” And that tendency to identity the work of the clergy as the work of the Church comes from a tragic misunderstanding of the dignity and demands of our Baptism. When anyone who is baptized is engaged in making just laws, teaching those in need of instruction, consoling the sorrowful, feeding the hungry, counseling the doubtful, visiting the sick or imprisoned, or serving someone in any kind of need, then the Church IS doing something about those problems, because everyone who is baptized is a member of the Church and bears responsibility for fulfilling the Great Commission.
Even more, all of the baptized have the high privilege and grave obligation to sanctify the world by their witness to Jesus Christ, and this can be done in every field of human endeavor. The Christian businessman who makes or sells something others need and does so honestly while treating his employees and customers with respect and fairness is bearing witness to the grace of his Baptism. The Christian politician who seeks to serve the common good and assist in the just governance of society according to the law of God is bearing witness to the grace of her Baptism. Christian doctors, lawyers, teachers, musicians, professors, accountants, journalists, architects, carpenters, plumbers, electricians, engineers, mechanics, soldiers, nurses, social workers, secretaries, pharmacists, artists, and shop keepers who work to the uttermost limits of their gifts and do so with integrity and virtue are bearing witness to the grace of their Baptism.
But if all of the above is true, then the converse is also true: Christians who sin gravely and behave badly and fail to live according to the Gospel give scandal to the world and make it more difficult for others to believe that Jesus Christ is Lord. We know this instinctively about priests, but it is true no less of everyone who is baptized and called by the Lord Jesus to be his disciple and follow him in the Way of the Cross. That is among the many reasons why all the baptized must strive with all their might to repent of their sins, believe in the Gospel, and cooperate with God’s grace to live in the evangelical freedom of the children of God.
Finally, while living an upright life is an essential part of fidelity to one’s Baptism, it is no substitute for explicit proclamation of the saving truth that Jesus Christ is Lord. All of the baptized are also called to announce the Good News of salvation in Christ and must be prepared at all times to speak to others about their friendship with the Lord Jesus, the truth and beauty of his Gospel, and the joy of living the life of grace in his holy Church. Praised be Jesus Christ! Now and forever!