Saturday, January 19, 2008

A Light to the Nations (Sunday homily)

In the first reading, the Father said to the Son,
“I will make you a light to the nations,
that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.”

Jesus Christ is doing that through his Church.
That makes each of us bearers of his light.

As I prepared this homily
I thought of how Father Rick used to use props, like this (pulling out a candle).

And I thought, “maybe the ushers could pass out candles?”
Then I thought, “oh, the Ladies of St. Clara won’t like paying for that!”

Then I thought of the Vigil of Easter.
At the beginning of Mass, the church is pitch-black,
and the deacon or priest crosses the threshold
with the towering Easter Candle, singing, “Christ, our Light.”
And as he comes forward, the church becomes brilliant
as each receives the light of Christ.

That’s our role in the world.
There’s a lot of pessimism,
and you and pierce that gloom with Christian hope.

Consider the current interest in the environment, which is a good thing.
But there are different messages, based on different mindsets.
Some efforts include God, others leave him out.

A more secular approach sees nothing special about humanity,
even going so far as to see people as the problem—their solution is fewer…of us!

This idea has been around for a long time.
With our tax dollars, Planned Parenthood goes all over the world,
passing out contraception and opening up abortion chambers.
To them, people are the problem.

Aside from the not-very-subtle racism
of wealthy white countries telling poor nations
with darker skins, “there are too many of you”…
is the simple fact that this is not true!

Our world has abundant resources.
But, too often, governments, ideology,
and special interests, get in the way.
A quick example: many poor nations aim to become less-poor
by selling us their goods.
But special interests block that through trade barriers.
So, those people stay poor; and we send billions in food aid,
and we tell them, “there are too many of you,”
and in case trouble breaks out, we sell them weapons.

Our Christian response is a message of hope.
People are not the problem;
people are why God created this world.
We affirm life!

This week we keep a sad vigil.
Tuesday is the anniversary of Roe v. Wade.

Here’s another false choice.
The Court took the view that the dignity of women
depends on denying the dignity of unborn children.
That not only pitted mothers against their own hearts,
but it pitted men against women.
It is men who often pressure the woman saying,
“take care of that, or I’ll leave.”

That decision injected poison
into the relations of men, women and children,
at the very core of our society.

That’s why we Catholics
cannot and will not ever make peace
with Roe v. Wade or abortion on demand.

Our bishops declared Tuesday a day of mourning, of fasting, prayer, and action.
Our response is a message of healing and hope.
We refuse to choose between women and children:
we choose both!
We reject the idea that you lift people up
by pushing others down.

Our courage to do what we need to do
comes from the Holy Spirit,
who remained in the world through Jesus,
And he remains, still, through his Body, the Church.

If each of us is a light,
then the flame of that light is the Holy Spirit.
How brightly do we want to shine?
How much warmth do we want to offer?

That depends on how well we respond—with our lives—to Christ.
How much do we want Him to change us?

Here we are at Mass:
as far as God’s grace for the world,
this is Grand Central Station.
Here Christ offers himself, as Servant, to the Father.
He says, “Here am I Lord, I come to do your will.”
His whole life—the Cross—the Mass: that’s what it is.

How do we respond?

This is what it means to share the Eucharist.
We come to communion,
if we belong to him, in baptism and in his Church,
and, if we are ready to say,
not just with a word, but with our lives:
“Here am I Lord, I come to do your will.”


Anonymous said...

It's Respect Life Sunday? You'd never know it at our parish. Thank you once again for providing my family with the homily we should have been given during Mass.

We're 0 for 2. No homily on Vocations week and no homily on Respect Life.

Adrienne said...

Father Martin,

Could you please do some extra research (I know you have tons of time on your hands)and find out how exactly the altars got turned around?

My husband asked our pastor how it came to be and he actually became a little testy (not like him) and said that they were "told" to do it - I'm assuming a directive from his Bishop. But on what authority was that done?

Reading the comments on WDTPRS for his most recent post leaves me to believe that I'm not the only one confused.

Your post on the subject was excellent.

Anonymous said...

I found this regarding the orientation:

INTER OECUMENICI (Instruction of the Sacred Congregation of Rites on Putting into Effect the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy) Sept. 26, 1964. Chapter V. I. 90. "In building new churches and in repairing or adapting old ones great care must be taken to ensure that they lend themselves to the celebration of divine services as these are meant to be celebrated, and to achieve the active participation of the faithful." 91."It is better for the high altar to be constructed away from the wall so that one can move round it without difficulty, and so that it can be used for a celebration facing the people. It ought to occupy a central position in the sacred edifice, thus becoming naturally the focal point of attention for the whole congregation." *** "The sanctuary must be large enough to allow plenty of room for the ceremonies."


Fr Martin Fox said...

Adrienne, Anonymous:

Thanks for your comments on ad orientem, but that's the next thread...

Anonymous said...

oops, sorry.


Adrienne said...

Father Martin,

I made the decision to post here to be sure you would see the question. I was wrong of me to under estimate your abilities:(

I also considered a personal email by way of your parish, but came to the conclusion that would have been rather presumptuous.

However, I have accepted my correction from the hierarchy, and will say 5 Hail Mary’s as my penance and promise to never, ever do it again.

Since I am on this thread kudos for the fine homily, too! We all need to start shining forth in the darkness.

Now, I am off to read the rest of your posts (after I say those Hail Mary's, of course!)

Fr Martin Fox said...

Karl, Adrienne:

The reason I wanted to direct your comments to the other thread is that otherwise, there wouldn't be any discussion here of my homily -- which can be very helpful to me, when people say what they liked and, even better, what they didn't like or understand.

Lynne said...

My pastor never preaches on abortion. Perhaps I'll mail this to him to he can see how it could be done. Your homily is a powerful statement on why it's wrong without sounding accusatory. So many pastors don't like to preach on abortion because they know that some women in the pews may have had an abortion. But we need to hear the Truth somewhere even if it's hard to hear.

Thank you Father.