Sunday, October 07, 2007

The Vision will have its time (Sunday homily)

In the first reading, we heard the prophet cry out:
“Violence! Ruin!”
Habbakuk could have been watching the TV news.
Or he could have been part of Sunday’s Life Chain—
in downtown Troy, at 2pm—to protest legal abortion.

With Habbakuk, we might ask: Why? When?
“Write down the vision,” the Lord answers:
“The vision still has its time” to be fulfilled: “Wait for it.”

You and I, as Christians, are the prophets in our time;
We have a message about the dignity of life
that isn’t always heard.
What I’m going to say now, isn’t easy to hear.

Our world has embraced contraception.
Most people, most Christians, don’t see why this matters.

For one thing, sometimes the pill causes an early abortion.
But there’s a deeper issue.

If we go out at night, and we gaze up at the canopy of stars,
are we not filled with awe?
Don’t we ask, “Wow! What is God saying to me?”
If we can marvel at mountains and oceans and stars
and know God’s truth is written in them,
Shouldn’t we look at our bodies and see the same thing?

But artificial means of family planning say,
“there is no message”;
Or, if we go that route, we choose to ignore the message.

In that mindset, the life-giving part of us
is a problem to be contained or overcome;
or, it’s something we feel free to set aside.

Someone might ask, why are artificial means wrong,
but Natural Family Planning is not wrong?
If we use Natural Family Planning
for the wrong reasons, then it, too, is wrong.

But the difference is this:
Natural Family Planning treats
the body and its gifts with honor.
It listens to and works with the language of the body.
NFP makes both spouses full partners—
rather than this being one spouse’s job.

But the most important thing
is that it fundamentally accepts
that we are partners with God in being life-givers.
We are stewards of a gift, not the controllers of it.

NFP works better than people realize;
and artificial means fail more often than people like to admit.

Here’s something very striking:
Couples using NFP face divorce far less often.

The key to NFP is that it presupposes sacrifice—dying to self.
No, it’s not easy—but what could be more Christian?

Does this Vision seem quaint and old-fashioned?
Wait for it—it will have its time.
After all, we see daily how the alternative vision is working.

In a few decades, our world has changed radically.
We’ve gone from contraception on demand
to abortion on demand.

From conceiving human life in a moment of intimate love,
to treating human life as lab experiment and a commodity,
to be used in research and development.

Is there a connection? There is a prophet who foresaw this.

Pope Paul VI, in 1968, wrote a letter called Humanae Vitae.
He placed artificial birth control in the context of
our dignity as pro-creators.

Think of it: God made humanity in his own image:
when a man and woman are in union,
the image of God is complete:
man and woman—creating life!

But Pope Paul said: we risk seeing ourselves
no longer as servants of God’s design,
but as “arbiters of the sources of human life.”

Another prophet, Pope John Paul, in 1987 said
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.”

These prophets have been proven right.
We now destroy human life in pursuit of “research.”
Again, even though we have alternatives.

Some will say, there are other life issues—and they are right.

No one understood this better than Pope John Paul.
The reason he warned us against the death penalty
was not because criminals didn’t have it coming—
but because our using it, as a society,
makes us less human, not more.

He warned us that we risked forgetting
that Life itself is a Gift—
even when we misuse it; even when it involves suffering—
even then, it does not lose its infinite value.

Indeed, so beautiful is life
that some of its beauty we only see
at moments that are otherwise terrible.

Pope John Paul himself showed us this in his final months:
his strong body, crippled, his powerful voice, silenced—
and yet he remained an Apostle of Christ to the end!

“The Vision still has its time,” God told the prophet.
You and I are the prophets now—we must share the Vision!
Like Habbakuk, we might wonder if anyone will listen.
But, with Timothy, the Holy Spirit gives us power.

The Vision will have its fulfillment: wait for it!


Fr. Larry Gearhart said...

Well said, my friend.

BTW, the way Habakkuk expresses God's words about the fulfillment of his plans bears a resemblance to how Hamlet expresses his confidence in Providence:

Not a whit, we defy augury:
there's a special providence
in the fall of a sparrow.
If it be now,
'tis not to come;
if it be not to come,
it will be now;
if it be not now,
yet it will come:
the readiness is all:
since no man has
aught of what he leaves,
what is't to leave betimes?

Barb Szyszkiewicz said...


We need more priests with the kind of courage you show by preaching on this subject.

Anonymous said...

Great Catholic Website!

Anonymous said...

Thank you, I needed a good sermon today.

Anonymous said...

Great homily, Father!

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Father Fox -

You gave a beautiful homily that elegantly tied together not only the scriptural readings for the day, but the real-world actions going on around us.

But how do we reconcile what you said with what the bishops of Connecticut did just last week with regard to Plan B? Did they not behave more like Pharisees, parsing the law, than leaders of the Church?

Fr Martin Fox said...


Oh, that mess up in Connecticut takes a lot more careful analysis than I can give here, I'm afraid.

They're talking about it at Jimmy Akin's site, and he usually is pretty careful.

Anonymous said...

Hello Father: I have never heard a homily that has incorporated the gospel reading with contraception/abortion. Truthfully, I am praying for the day our priest just recognizes "Respect Life Sunday."

How was the response from your parishioners to your homily?

God Bless you, Father, for your willingness to educate and enlighten, even those who seemingly should know it already.

Fr Martin Fox said...


I got few responses. No one expressed upset to me (in the grocery-store aisle? who knows?).

Actually, my homily didn't make any use of the Gospel, I drew on the other readings.