Friday, September 24, 2010

Father Richard Siok's homily 7:00 pm Mass Saint Patrick Basilica, September 21, 2010

This is one of the best homilies I have ever heard so I transcribed it from the audio file which you can find at the forty days for life website or at this link on my website. 

Click  HERE  to listen to Father Richard's Homily
"Below is the text of the homily which I transcribed from the audio file (see link above)"

There are readings liturgies where we can chose from which are very targeted to the pro-life cause. Today, however, is the Feast of Saint Matthew, the Evangelist, the Apostle, and on the important Feasts we don’t fool around eh: we have to take the mass for that day, so I was scratching my head and worried needlessly that, what could I say? How can I tie in the readings? Until I read the readings properly and there is of course a beautiful tie-in!

Today’s gospel describes the call of St. Matthew to become an apostle of Jesus Christ, improbable choice from a human perspective. He is a man who made money his idol. He didn’t care what his people said about him. He was ostracized: he didn’t care. Money! So the Pharisees had a problem when Jesus called him. And not only did Jesus call him, Jesus, my goodness ate with Matthew and other people of the same ilk! Now remember, I remind you again, that back then, having a meal with somebody, a formal meal, was not something informal like we have in our culture; let’s do lunch sometime. Here it’s just an acquaintance : let’s do lunch and we think nothing of it. Back then having a meal with somebody, a formal meal was a big deal! It said we now share an identity together and the idea of betraying somebody who you shared a meal with was unthinkable, hence the crime of Judas. The Jews saw even a deeper aspect to it than we see from that perspective.

Matthew, of course, as I mentioned: the Pharisees looked at Jesus and then said to His disciples, “What’s wrong with your master? Doesn’t He realize who this man is? He is eating with him, sharing an identity with him! He must have flipped! Talk to the man! “ Using modern language that’s what they were saying. Now as a tax collector, it wasn’t only that Matthew was a collaborator of the Romans, there was another aspect to Matthew which the Pharisees found a problem with and it’s this: He was a tax collector in Galilee a territory of Herod Antipas, and as a tax collector in Galilee, he had a lot of business dealings: close business dealings with the Gentiles. Now the Pharisees, in their mindset, they strove, they were always striving to insulate the Jews from the pagans, from the Gentiles, from the Goyim. There was too much rapport with the Goyim that got us into trouble in the past, and falling away from God’s commandments, so they said “Because your Master ( in effect they were saying ) is dealing with a man who had a lot of dealings with the Goyim, the Gentiles, Matthew is very impure therefore, and your master, by eating with him, is also becoming very impure liturgically. I’m not sure that was the accusation they were making about Christ, that He had become impure liturgically, by eating with Matthew, because dealing with the Gentiles was a source of liturgical impurities.

Now, notice Christ’s response to the Pharisees when he sees the brouhaha they are trying to create amongst his disciples. He quotes from the book of the prophet Isaiah, the sixth chapter: interesting quote “ I desire mercy and not sacrifice” For us we read that and say “What does that mean really? Now the Pharisees had many faults but they also had some qualities and one of their qualities was that they knew the old testament scriptures inside out. They immediately identified the quote, where it came from, and they immediately understood its context. Now to understand what Christ was saying to the Pharisees and hence what He’s trying to teach us, and what Matthew is trying to give us of God’s revelation through his quoting of Christ, we have to understand what this part of the book of Hosea was all about. Jesus gave one little quote eh? Now, Hosea the prophet, he ministered to and wrote to the Jews in the northern kingdom of Israel. That’s very important to know.

I’ll explain why shortly, because as you recall there was King David, King Solomon, it was all unite, all 12 tribes were united under Kings David and Solomon. After Solomon, now the tribes of the north, the ten tribes of the North very reluctantly had accepted King David. As a matter of fact , they only accepted David as their king after a civil war which lasted for quite a number of years. They groaned under Solomon. When Soloman died they said “to heck with it, we want nothing to do with the line of kings coming from David: nothing to do with them, the Davidic line, and so they actually separated: they became a separate country. . Anyways, what Jesus is saying quoting Hosea is this: Because God in the book of Hosea wrapped their knuckles for separating because God was saying “the Davidic line is My line” and Christ in quoting Hosea was saying to the Pharisees “ You guys are rejecting me. Like the people of the north rejected the Davidic dynasty, you’re rejecting me and I am the ultimate fulfillment of all those promised to King David.” That’s one message he was giving them.

But there’s another message as well. When the Jews were in the desert, and this is where it becomes very relevant to us, here with the 40 days for Life. When the Jews were in the desert when the EXODUS under Moses, God’s intent was that they become the elder brother to all the peoples, the pagan peoples, they had come into contact with. Through their example and through their teaching they were to bring healing from the contamination of idolatry. By their example and their teachings they were to bring all the nations of the world to Yahweh: away from their idolatry and to Yahweh. What happened? In the Kingdom of the North, I won’t talk about the south, in the kingdom of the north the opposite happened when they broke away from Jerusalem and all that, what happened was that they came under the influence of the pagans and instead of them transforming the pagans, they became paganized. Yes they had their rival temple to Jerusalem, in a place called Bethel, where they adored Yahweh. But they also had on their high places, on their mountains, all these little temples and sanctuaries to the pagan gods where they would also offer sacrifices to the pagan gods including , by the way, human sacrifices: infants…….. And hence, God’s words to them through Hosea, through the people of the North “ Your sacrifices, especially those to the pagan gods, you keep, start with mercy. Start bringing Me, MY Word, My Presence, to the pagan peoples. First purify yourselves. And that’s what the meaning was “ I desire mercy and not sacrifices” And when the Pharisees heard this in the context of Jesus calling Matthew and the others, what were they thinking? What was the message they got? Christ was telling them the following. He was telling them “ Look, we have those people like Matthew who have fallen into idolatry. Matthew’s idolatry was…. money.

First of all, before we can reach out to the pagans like God wanted us to do originally in the desert, let’s first purify ourselves. I’m reaching out to MY own people and look they’re saying yes. I’m calling them: they’re saying yes. They’re changing their lives. They’re changing their lives. That’s what God wanted through Hosea. That’s what he wants us to do, and you Pharisees are fighting God’s plan. You don’t want God’s mercy to flow to those who have fallen away. And of course, that message applies to us. We know that as Christians eh, we are called to be followers of Christ. We have to follow his example. Christ didn’t shirk away from identifying evil, making himself vulnerable to evil, and confronting evil. He did it with the Pharisees, for example where they were off mark, although they were very prestigious, powerful people, the priests of His time. High Priests or not, when they deserved criticism, He criticized them. He identified where they got off the mark: the authorities in the temple. Christ identified evil and confronted it. The people were possessed. Christ didn’t shirk away from them. He confronted the evil and made himself even vulnerable to it as we will read at His passion. They only arrested Christ because he gave them permission. That’s clear in John’s Gospel. Christ had to give them permission to be arrested.

And so, it’s the same for us as followers of Christ. He’s our model. And one of the great evils of our time, I’m preaching to the choir, if not the greatest evil of our time, is abortion. Human sacrifice , really when you think of it, to an idol; the idol of human Freedom or libertinism perhaps is a better word and as an absolute, and like Christ as His followers, we are called to identify an evil for what it is, to bear witness to it, and also to do it in such a way, that God’s mercy will be offered to our society through our witness. And also, God’s mercy will be offered perhaps to the young women going for an abortion, as they see the witness , maybe some of them even haven’t thought about it. And some who have had abortions will think it over, and those who support abortion, perhaps seeing the witness, will think, and God’s Grace, if they are open to it, will start to work in them.

Now I’ll give you something perhaps very, ah………… When we are dealing with the abortion issue, we are generally dealing with people who aren’t Christians. They may be baptized, but in their souls they’re not Christians eh? We’re dealing with people who are secularized and they will say well, it’s a human right. It’s a free society. It’s a human right: the right to choose. And it’s good to be able to confront them on that level. It’s no use quoting the bible to them, they don’t believe. So to get them thinking, confront them with something which will surprise them. Make them think on a human level. In the whole aspect of human rights, first of all the Church wrote the book of human rights. It’s not for society, it’s for the Church. If it wasn’t for the Church there would be no concept of human rights out there.

In effect, it’s in the thirteenth century, eh, the thirteenth century that Thomas Aquinas in some of his writings , the idea , the reality of human rights, inalienable human rights coming from God, cause we’re human, simply because we’re human , we get them from God, that started to perculate in his writings. He never worked on it as a specific separate item, but it was there, it started to come up.

And then in the sixteenth century a Jesuit by the name of Suarez, he focused on human rights, and building on what Thomas Aquinas was developing, he expounded on it, and he wrote, if you wish, the book on human rights in his writings. And what Suarez wrote, and an English professor Hobbs took up in the seventeenth century. And Hobbs writings on human rights was then taken up by the drafters of the American Declaration of Independence eh? And you remember they said we were all created by God and all that? And we have basically three inalienable human rights given to us from God: the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness or property. Americans say Pursuit of Happiness, English say Pursuit of property . These three rights, inalienable rights are not co-equal. They are Hierarchical. And when you think about it for a minute, you immediately see why. If you don’t have a right to life, then what’s the use of having the right for liberty and the right for property or happiness? If anybody can kill you at any time, the other rights become moot eh? So the right to life is fundamental. Without the right to liberty and life, then the right for property and the pursuit of happiness becomes moot. And if you’re not free, don’t have a right to eh freedom, how can you pursue your happiness or property? So, you see there is a hierarchy eh in them. Now in the nineteenth century…… you talk about Supreme Courts. In the nineteenth century, the American Supreme Court in a decision called the “Dredd Scott Decision” said the following “The property rights of Whites, of White landowners trump the liberty rights of Blacks.” That was a Supreme Court Decision. That was supposed to have settled the issue. People of conscience could not and would not accept that decision. They were considered initially “rabble rousers”, even in the North. They fought it. Eventually, after the Civil War it was overturned. You see, because again, liberty comes before property rights in the hierarchy eh?

Today we’re facing the abortion debate. What we’re saying is ( and I know there are many sad cases, but we’re not getting into that we’re talking here philosophically ) I know that many women have very difficult decisions to make, very difficult circumstances and all that, but that caveat not withstanding, ultimately the pro choice argument is that the liberty rights of the woman ( sometimes she is pushed into it, forced into it, cajoled onto it) but that right trumps the life right of the unborn baby.


So, Just as the nineteenth century decision of the Supreme Court made no sense, so the twentieth Century Supreme Court Decision also cannot hold up. And just as today we look upon those who fought the culture of their time, the nineteenth century in the United States, as being heroes, because then that spread through the world. It brought slavery down throughout the world. So I suggest to you, that barring the Second Coming of Jesus in the near future, down the road, people will recognize abortion for the evil it is and those who fought it will be recognized with pride and as being heroes.

We don’t remember those who fought for slavery eh, by the press and all that in the United States, in the nineteenth Century. We remember those who fought it.

Same with this. This is the issue which comes down to the fundamental dignity and reality of human beings. The right to life is not something which is negotiable. It’s something which comes to us from God Himself with no intermediaries

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.