Sunday, April 22, 2018

The Shepherd's path and same-sex attraction (Sunday homily)

What makes a good shepherd is that he leads the flock 
safely to the right place. 
We may not know where he is leading us, or why, but this we know:
You and I are safe listening to his voice.

Every parish priest, Archbishop Schnurr, 
all our bishops, and the Holy Father in Rome: we are sinful men. 
The best we can do is follow Jesus, 
and point you in the same direction.

So in that spirit, I am going to talk about 
something controversial and delicate. 
Parents, I will do my best with my language.

I want to talk about the question of same-sex attraction.
I apologize that you don’t hear more from me on this, 
but it’s a hard topic to address the right way. 

There are so many questions I won’t be able to answer 
in the time I have.

As I said a moment ago, we sheep don’t always know 
why the path is the way it is. Sometimes it can be so hard;
Why does it need to be? 
It is so much easier, it seems, for to go our own way.
But you and I do not see where those easy paths take them.

What we do know is that Jesus longs for us 
to share his Resurrected life, in the New Creation. 
Remember: the choices you and I make now shape our future.
When Christ says, “don’t go that way!” 
He knows it will be an easy path, not to joy, but sorrow.

Let me make some quick points:

- As the Catechism says, we don’t really know why 
some people experience attraction to the same sex (2357).

- As far as we know, most people do not choose this, 
and for them, it is a trial.

- To feel these feelings is not a sin. 
It isn’t a sin to want something; the sin is in the choice you make. 

- But to want something that is morally wrong is a disorder. 
So the Catechism says this desire is “disordered.” 
You could also say “misdirected.” 

And I might add, the same thing is true of gluttony, of wrath, 
or sloth, or greed. Every one of us is “disordered”; 
but some of our disorders are more socially acceptable.

Now, I want to address three broader points. 
First, I want to talk about why this behavior is gravely sinful, 
and why we cannot and must not approve of it.

Then I want to talk about how we came to be 
where we are as a society. 

And then I want to talk about how we respond.

So, first, why are homosexual acts a mortal sin?
Again, let me quote the Catechism. 
“They are contrary to the natural law. 
They close the sexual act to the gift of life. 
They do not proceed from a genuine affective 
and sexual complementarity” (2357).

Notice what I just said: “they close the sexual act to the gift of life.” 
There are a lot of other things that fall under rubric, aren’t there?
So, if you’re wondering how we got where we are?
It’s because we’ve grown very accepting 
of many other sins against the Sixth Commandment – 
now this is just one more.

When we talk about Natural Law, what that means is this:
Even without looking at the Bible, or the words of Jesus, 
we can see what is right and wrong. 
Any high school biology text will tell you 
what the parts of our bodies are made for – 
and what they are NOT made for.

Natural Law points us in the right direction, 
but God’s Word gives us even greater light. 
Because this is not only about rejecting the gift of life
it is also, truthfully, about rejecting the true vocation of love.

When I say that, I know that sounds harsh.
I can hear people – even in my own family – saying angrily, 
“but gay people are just as capable of love as anyone else.”
And that is absolutely true.
But what I’m saying is this: that the advertising slogan is false. 
It is false to say, “love is love.” No, it really isn’t.

I love coffee. I love my country. I love my parents; I love my friends. 
If I were married, I would love my wife. And I would love my children. 
But do I love them all with the same love? Of course not.

The love of a man and a woman is unique; 
It can be mimicked, but only a man and a woman can enter into it.
Why? Because men and women are “complementary” – 
that is, they complete each other. Again, this is an obvious fact.

This union – and no other – produces children.
And when this union is chaste – meaning, 
rejecting all those other actions that are closed to the gift of life –
then, it calls forth from the spouses 
the self-emptying that leads to life. 

Remember what the Good Shepherd said: 
“He who would save his life must lose it.”

I know what people say: 
“But why not let people do what makes them happy?”
And the answer is,  the Good Shepherd knows where that path leads, 
and it isn’t to happiness.

When the Catechism says that same-sex acts 
lack “genuine affective…complementarity,” It means this:
The proper and healthy love between two men or two women 
is called friendship. 
It can even rise to the loyalty of brothers or sisters.
This is virtuous – this leads to life.

But when a man tries to find in another man, 
what can only be found in a woman, and vice-versa, they will not find it. 
And they will delude themselves to the truth in the process.

So for anyone who experiences these feelings, 
or maybe this is the challenge for someone you know:
I know what I’m saying is hard. 
But the truth is, most all* of us face hard paths at different points, 
in different ways. 

One of the hallmarks of our time is the notion 
that we’re entitled to avoid the hard path.
So we’re entitled to make an unwanted pregnancy “go away.”
So of course we want to “screen out” disabled people.
And if someone is in pain, or dying – just get rid of them.

But we are Christians: and Jesus said, 
“If you would be my disciple, take up your Cross, and follow Me.”
That is the path to Life. For everyone.

So, how did we get here?
This didn’t start with the “gay rights” movement.
It started long before, as our society progressively forgot 
what sex and marriage truly are. 

Fifty years ago, it was the pill.
Before that, it was normalizing divorce.
Long before that, it was the double-standard about promiscuity.
And before that, it was the notion that freedom 
is more important than the truth.

When we turned onto that path, the Shepherd warned us, 
but as a society, we didn’t listen. That’s how we got here.
And that’s why, this path is going to take us worse places still, 
until we finally turn back. 

So, how do we respond?

Several points quickly:

Don’t be surprised, and don’t be discouraged.
There is a larger battle underway. 
Ultimately, this is not our battle, but God’s.
This is finally about whether God is God, or we are our own gods.
You and I are called to be faithful.

Recognize the truth in what those we disagree with are saying.
There has been bullying and cruelty. 
It happens in schools and playgrounds. 

There is a legitimate need for tolerance, dignity and compassion.
The answer is not anger and ugliness, 
but to point out that there is no real compassion without the truth.

You and I must bear witness to the truth, wrapped in love.

Anyone who is wrestling with these things, you can come to me.
I am chaplain for a group called Courage, 
which a fellowship for men and women whose path in life 
includes these feelings.
I will treat you with respect and love. I will not lie to you; 
I will accompany you. I will listen to you and do all I can to help.

And everyone here, I plead with you: do exactly the same.
Your children, your neighbors, their friends, people around us 
need to know who they can trust, who they can talk to, 
who they are safe with.
They need the Good Shepherd; 
and it is everyone’s job 
to make him present in our deeply troubled world.

* I made this change after the first Mass.


Highland Cathedral said...

Many, many thanks for giving that homily. The role of a good shepherd is not to tell people what they might want to hear but to tell them what they need to hear. Fr Fox truly is a good shepherd.

Sue Sims said...

Thank you, Fr Fox: that homily combines justice and mercy, and states truth with compassion: courage in every sense.

The Egyptian said...

Off topic, didn't see your regular email listed,

Thank you Fr for a wonderful wedding mass yesterday, unfortunately you have ruined my regular Sunday Mass for me, here up north in the marion catholic community, I just cannot stand the banal goings on, witnessed a first communion this morning, Fr had the new communicants join him crowded up close at the altar at his side and asked them to help him say the consecration prayers. I have challenged some of the actions in the past and all I get is we are a horizontal church now, not vertical, gag me,,,please!
Anyway, keep up the good work and I hope to attend some of your Masses from time to time.
Also kudos on a great sermon for a wedding, everyone commented on it, You not getting the girl is one of the better things that has happened for the Church.
And please compliment the servers for me, they are well trained and a credit to you and your parish.

God Bless
The Egyptian