In the first reading, we heard the prophet cry out: “Violence! Ruin!”
With Habbakuk, we ask: Why?
Why can we never see the end of war?
Why are people so cruel to one another?
“Write down the vision,” the Lord answers:
“The vision still has its time” to be fulfilled: “Wait for it.”
What’s the vision? Well, it’s God’s Vision—
as opposed to the alternative, which might be called,
“Doing it our way, without God.”
Part of that Vision is not only the dignity of human life,
but also that a moral life means choices that involve sacrifice.
We Catholics seem so far out of step with the world
when we insist on protecting the unborn,
and keeping intimate acts between couples open to the gift of life—
meaning no contraception.
This is a hard sell for many, including many Catholics.
But there’s Vision at work here—wait for it…
If we go out at night, and we gaze at the stars,
are we not filled with awe?
Surely God has some design and purpose in it all.
Who can doubt this?
That Divine purpose is not only written in the stars, but even moreso in ourselves.
One reason we Catholics cannot agree
with our culture’s values about human intimacy
is because they deny or at least muddle that higher purpose.
We are made in the image and likeness of God:
and when a man and woman come together,
they are never more like God—because at that moment,
they do what only God can do: create new life.
The problem with artificial means of family planning
is they redesign God’s design.
God’s design is that a loving act is also a life-creating act.
Natural Family Planning respects this.
But the whole mindset of artificial means of family planning
is that the life-creating part of us as a problem to be overcome,
rather than a blessing to be embraced with reverence.
As a priest, I am entrusted with an awesome power: I offer the Mass.
Through this sinner that I am,
Christ makes his saving sacrifice present,
and nourishes us all with his Body and Blood.
That awesome power and gift is not mine to control or redesign.
I don’t even like to speak of it, but:
obviously I could misuse that power and gift.
I have to be under God’s authority in this or I can do a lot of harm.
Well, as human beings, the life-creating part of us
is likewise an awesome power and gift.
And likewise, we aren’t free to do with that gift just as we may please.
That’s the Vision that our world ignores.
But, wait for it, it will have it’s time.
Our world’s values—how are they working out?
Are our families better off?
Are children better off when their parents never marry?
Is society better off?
I mentioned Natural Family Planning.
One of the striking things is that while it demands more sacrifice,
it also seems to strengthen intimacy.
Divorce is far less common for those who practice NFP.
Meanwhile, we cannot ignore the direction our society has taken.
After all, who is it that must be the prophet today,
calling people back from a path of ruin, to a path of life?
This is Respect Life Sunday; and we must speak up
against the destruction of the unborn
and we must cry out that we embrace both mother and child.
And if you think I’m wrong to draw a connection here,
I would point out that another prophet Pope Paul VI,
saw this coming; in his 1968 letter Humanae Vitae,
said that this would happen.
In 1987, yet another prophet, Pope John Paul, sounded another alarm.
Before long, “the researcher will usurp the place of God…
as the master of the destiny of others…” reducing human life
to it’s worth as a “pure and simple instrument for the advantage of others.”
Now, our tax dollars pay for research that involves the destruction of unborn children.
Even though there are alternatives that do not destroy early human life.
This isn’t just about one issue, as some say.
It’s about the Vision: who are we? Are we God’s image or not?
If not, anything goes. Why care for the poor?
Why not exploit migrant workers?
Why not torture the enemy? Why not execute criminals?
Why not push people to die when they are suffering?
The world’s vision that offered freedom ends up bringing despair.
We are nothing, and the world will better off without us.
God offers us a different Vision:
We are not only his image at our best,
but even when we’re broken and marred:
God so loves us so much that he gave his only Son.
Life is worth living because even at our worst, we are his beloved.
That’s our Vision. Wait for it. It will have its time.