27TH SUNDAY OF ORDINARY TIME–10/3/10
by Msgr. Eric R. Barr, STL READINGS: 2TM 1:6-8; 13-14; LUKE 17:5-10
by Msgr. Eric R. Barr, STL
READINGS: 2TM 1:6-8; 13-14; LUKE 17:5-10
I. St. Francis and the Gospel of Life
A. At the beginning of Respect Life month, we are really fortunate to also celebrate the Feast of St. Francis (Oct. 4) who taught us how to be joyful and faithful to Christ and his teachings. You know, St. Francis was absolutely faithful to Catholic teaching. Sometimes we forget and think that his being Catholic was incidental to his sainthood but it was not. He was joyful, fun, and filled with life precisely because of the truths he held with his Catholic faith. His reverence for all of creation–that is essential Catholic teaching. His love of people and his insistence that each person’s dignity be recognized and honored –that is essential Catholic teaching.
B. I’ve told you many stories about him. Three years ago, I told the most famous one–The Wolf of Gubbio. Then there’s the story of his preaching to the birds. Then there is the story of his traveling to see the Sultan of the Holy Land to preach to this Moslem King about the power of Christ. Then there is the famous story I told you about his meeting a leper. Many stories, all about his reverence for life because of the dignity that Christ gave all creation–especially humanity.
II. Becoming More Pro-Life
A. But in our day and age, it is easier to hug a wolf, or kiss a seal, or wish Keiko the Killer Whale happiness in the next life than it is to help the poor, save the life of the unborn, protect the aged and ill. Francis taught us that God wanted us to reverence all life, but particularly human life. What have we become when the plankton in the ocean is deemed more precious than the person in the womb? What does it say about the value of a human person when we weep for the passing of the spotted owl but do not shed a tear when a doctor decides to end the life of a patient, or a son or daughter wishes to end the life of an aged mother or father? What do we really value when we pass stringent laws on littering and air pollution and make legal the killing of near term babies in partial birth abortions? Our Congress will argue for months about whether the caribou will have their view impaired or their environment harmed if we drill for oil in the Arctic. But tell them to keep researchers from raising human embryos only to harvest their stem cells or body parts for others and that is seen as somehow infringing on human choice. St. Francis said all life must be reverenced–to treasure and take care of the earth and environment is important–that’s Catholic teaching, but he also taught, as did Christ, that nothing is more valuable than a human person, a human being, a human life.
B. The Gospel of Life that we preach is a joyful one. Sure we say no to abortion, and no to euthanasia, and no to the oppressing of the poor and abuse of children–but in this case, saying no is the joyful, truthful, right thing to do. It’s counter-cultural, but it’s what we must do. Did you hear St. Paul talking to Timothy today? He said, "I remind you...God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline. Do not be ashamed...join with me in suffering for the Gospel...hold to the standard of sound teaching that you have heard from me." Sure we like St. Francis today–but when he lived, he suffered for teaching the truth.
C. Many of us get sucked into the sympathy argument. Because Christopher Reeve or Michael J. Fox, faces we know and love were or are suffering, we are more willing to see unnamed and unseen human embryos die because we think we can use their parts to help heal others. But you cannot sacrifice one human in order to save another. You can’t make one life more important. Jews must die for the sake of the Aryan race. That’s what Hitler said. Christians and other non-Moslems must die so that Allah will be happy. That’s what Osama bin Laden says. The tiniest of human life whether in the test tube or the womb can be killed for the greater good of humanity. Old people can be killed if they pose too great a burden on society. And now the Netherlands says that even children can be killed if they’re really sick. That’s what modern medical research is saying. We can rationalize all we want, but the good God who created all creation will not let this stand, nor will he open heaven’s gates to anyone who knowingly and willingly promotes such things.