(From memory, I followed a mental outline)
As I reflected on the readings, a word came to me--I wonder if it occurred to you: urgency. There is great urgency in the readings we heard.
Jonah comes to Nineveh and tells them they must repent; very quickly the whole city responds: they felt urgency.
St. Paul says the world as we know it is passing away; he felt urgency.
In the Gospel, when our Lord said, "come follow me and I will make you fishers of men," they responded right away. They didn't write it down for later; they didn't say, after my kids are grown, or when things get easier. They dropped their nets and walked away.
So I wonder, what does this mean for us?
Well, today we mark an anniversary: the Roe v. Wade decision, striking down laws in 50 states against abortion, and bringing about abortion on demand. Almost 40 years has passed. Over a million every year, and millions of women are wounded. My home city of Cincinnati has about 300,000 people; that's three of my home cities in one year.
Do we feel urgency about this? Many will be in D.C. tomorrow, as will I; many of our students will ride a bus all night. There are 70 million Catholics in this country; if just 10%--7 million--showed up tomorrow in D.C., or in Columbus, or in Troy, would that communicate urgency?
The bishops have declared tomorrow a day of penance and prayer; whatever you do, wherever you are, they ask that we offer penance--make a sacrifice--offer prayers tomorrow.
Now, two days ago, the holy father met with some of our bishops. All the bishops of the world meet the holy father every 5 years. And he said the following--I'm paraphrasing. He said that your country was founded on good principles of human rights, godly principles. He quoted the Declaration of Independence. But, he said, there is a growing opposition to Christian principles; and he said the bishops need to speak up, to oppose it, to awaken the faithful and our nation to this. He was trying to create urgency.
The next day...and what I'm going to say is shocking, there's no way to sugar-coat it.
The next day, our president issued an order that every employer in the country, starting in August, must provide contraceptives and abortion-causing drugs as part of health care. There is a very narrow exception that might apply to our parish, but may not to our school; it certainly won't apply to our hospitals, universities and charities; and it won't apply to you, in your businesses. The only exception was that religious organizations could wait another year before compromising their consciences.
In 236 years, never has our government interfered with your freedom to practice our faith. We have been free to live our faith here; until this moment.
If we do not comply, we will be fined. I tell you, as long as I am your pastor, we will not obey! They can take me to jail.
Now, we have hope that the courts will strike this down, it's so outrageous. But we might have hoped the courts would do the right thing 40 years ago, but they didn't.
Who will speak up? There are 70 million Jonahs; 70 million Apostles in this country. God calls us.
I sprinkled you with water today, recalling your baptism. You were chosen to share his mission; you've already been called.
Now, some don't understand why our Church teaches what it does about contraception. We priests don't talk about it enough. Let me explain this briefly: love is for life.
We are not merely human. God has paid us the intolerable compliment of giving us divine quality, including us in his plan. So our human actions have a divine element. And when a couple comes together, we are most like God. So human acts of love always include God, include the gift of life. We don't leave him out.
But this isn't about the teaching. What if this were happening to our Muslim brothers and sisters; our Jewish brothers and sisters? Would we wash our hands of it, if their conscience was under attack?
This is upsetting; I'm upset, I'm sorry. This is serious. Who will speak up? God calls you.