Sunday, July 16, 2017


Homily for July 17th, 2017: Matthew 10:34-11:1.

I have come, Jesus tells us in today’s gospel, not for peace but for division – even in the same family. We hear many voices reminding us that in today’s dangerous world we need a strong military defense. We hear less about the need to repair our moral defenses. All the military might in the world will not save our country, however, or any country, if the moral fabric of our national life is rotten. Examples of this rot are not difficult to find:

Schools that are awash in a sea of drugs, physical and general lawlessness; where parents are willing to have their children driven many miles to attend better schools; and where many who would like to be teachers instead of wardens are quitting in disgust. Lying, cheating, and taking unfair advantage of others at every level: in business, government, in labor unions, and in the so-called learned professions. A retired lawyer said to me recently: “When I was admitted to the bar, you could take another lawyer’s word for it. Now you had better get it in writing.”

The indiscriminate and legal killing of unborn children in our country, because their birth might be an inconvenience. There are now a million and a half abortions a year in our country. That is one tiny human life snuffed out every twenty seconds of every hour, day and night, day in and day out.

          Those examples are just the tip of the iceberg – only a small part of the evidence of moral sickness in our society. There are, thank God, also many beautiful signs of moral health, especially in the idealism and willingness to sacrifice of many of our young people. But all this good evidence cannot cancel out the bad. A moment’s reflection discloses part, at least of the reason for this moral sickness: placing private gain ahead of public good; seeking happiness through getting rather than through giving.

          Pointing out such examples of social rot is called unpatriotic, or silenced with the simplistic slogan: “America – love it or leave it.” Anyone who has experienced that kind of hostility knows what Jesus means when he says in today’s gospel: “Do you think I have come to establish peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.” The price of following Jesus Christ is high. How could it be otherwise, when the One we follow found that the price of his discipleship was death – but beyond death – for Jesus as also for us if we are trying to build our lives on him – eternal life.