Saturday, October 05, 2013

Choice or Love (Sunday homily)

Is it off-putting to hear our Lord describe us as “servants,”
and to have him tell us not to expect praise from God
when we simply do what was expected?

If so, why? God is God, and we are his creatures.

Maybe the reason why is that most of the time,
we are told, or we tell ourselves, how important we are.
How special we are.

Now, I think it’s true that some people have too little self-esteem.
We hear about that. But we never seem to hear much discussion
of whether we have too much self-esteem!

Ego. Narcissism. It’s all about me.

But we have a whole lot of children suffering in our society
because of adults who put themselves, and their relationships,
their own freedom, ahead of responsibility
to the children they brought into the world.

In the whole discussion about
changing our society’s collective definition of marriage,
the issue of children has almost entirely been pushed aside;
because in our modern age,
marriage and the raising of children have been disconnected.

None of this changes the fact that a child can’t exist
without a mother and a father.

Either children are welcomed—even when they show up unexpectedly—
or else they will be discarded,
because they are imperfect,
or else because they don’t fit into the adults’ plans.

Our society says, it’s all about choice.
I’d like to suggest that what the Gospel says,
is that it’s all about love.

Growing up, my parents told me they loved me.
But that’s not what lives in my memory.

What I remember—
what touches me more deeply as I grow older—
is the memory of how my father and my mother
got up, day after day, and worked.
Everything they did, they did to make a good life for all of us—
but most of it wasn’t for them; but for their children. For me.

And I don’t know how any of that
could have happened if “self” and “choice”
had been number one, instead of love.
Not just my family; but any family.

One of the ways my parents loved me
wasn’t in what they gave me, or what they did for me,
as much as what they refused to give me! When my parents said No!
And their reward was my complaining about how mean they were,
and out of touch, and how they needed to get with the times!

Isn’t that what happens to us, as Catholics, when we confront our world,
and sometimes one another,
with parts of the Gospel that aren’t so easy to hear?

So, yes, we have been against war when everyone said go.
We oppose the death penalty and speak out against vengeance.
When our government says torture is necessary, it’s our duty to say No!

And when we are asked to buy the notion
that the dignity of women
must come at the cost of destroying unborn children,
again, we have to reject that sort of thinking,
and say, no, both lives are valuable,
because all human life is valuable.

And that’s what’s at stake in the subject of immigration.
Washington is so messed up,
I’m not even going to talk about any legislation.

But one of the key things our bishops are trying to get across—
and they need our help to do it—
is that whatever we do with immigration and borders,
we cannot forget the dignity and real needs of the human beings involved.

Whether with immigration, or war, or abortion, or health care,
or any other issue, it can’t be all about me—us—my kind—
or just about people who talk or look or pray like us.

This part of being a Christian can be hard,
Just like being good parents, or a good friend,
Who sometimes has to take a friend aside, and say, “we need to talk.”
But we do it out of love.

And what God said to the Prophet Habbakuk
in the first reading he says to us:
The message we have has to presented clearly.
And if it seems our vindication is delayed, wait for it.
“The vision will have its time.”

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