Homily for May 20th, 2017: John 15:18-21.
“If the world hates you, realize that it hated me first,” Jesus says in today’s gospel.. Does the world really hate us? I’m sorry to tell you: It does. When we say, publicly and openly, that abortion at any stage of pregnancy, is the deliberate killing of a baby, a crime as grave as the killing of a human being at any age between birth and natural death, the world calls us misogynists, haters of women, enemies of their “reproductive freedom,” who are waging a war on women.
When we say, publicly and openly, that marriage is exclusively the lifelong union of one man and on woman, rooted in our God given human nature, for the sake not only of uniting hearts and minds, but also for parenthood, we are called homophobes, bigots, enemies of equality as reprehensible as those who defended segregated schools, waiting rooms, and lunch counter in yesteryear’s Jim Crow South.
The world hates us for saying these things and tells us: “You should be ashamed.” These are not merely personal opinions, as a parishioner claimed not long ago after I had stated from the pulpit the Church’s teaching about marriage. They are the teaching of the Catholic Church.
There is a way to avoid this hatred, and it is this: simply be silent about such matters. Then we can continue to go to Mass, and identify ourselves publicly as Catholics without arousing hatred; because the world knows, with a wink and a nod, that there are also “good Catholics”: sensible, modern people who don’t upset anyone by mentioning such matters; because such Catholics agree with those who hate us that the Church’s teachings are outdated, obsolete, and hence, for Catholics, optional and dispensable. Friends, nothing in our Catholic faith is optional or dispensable, any more than any one of the teachings of Jesus Christ is optional. It was Jesus’ refusal to compromise, or be silent, about anything he said that brought him to the cross.
One day each one of us will stand before God in judgment. One of the questions we shall be asked is this: Were you ever ashamed of the gospel? Did you keep silent about any part of it, or did you deny it, out of fear that you would make people uncomfortable or even angry? The answers to those questions will determine, one day, where, how, and with whom, we shall spend eternity. Think about that. More important, pray about it.