Sunday homilies are constrained by length and by the understanding there are children of all ages present at most liturgies. They are never “speeches” or “talks” and even those that convey new information are not to be lessons or lectures. One of my pastor mentors in seminary used to say that a homily should always end with something we can do. With that understanding, here is last Sunday’s homily.
Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Jesus heals Peter’s Mother-in-Law
Any week the President of the United States
Uses Christ’s name twice in one speech
In the same context with the
Inquisition and Crusades
Serious Catholics have some
Praying to do
My responsibility isn’t to criticize
But his speech has left some sickened
My responsibility is to lift us up
With the gospel truth
Of Jesus Christ
Just as Christ raised up
From her sickbed
To full health
Don’t let anyone keep you
In a sickbed about your faith!
Read, study, know the truth
A few moments on the two issues
The president raised in his prayer breakfast speech:
In 1998 John Paul II made these concluding remarks in a speech about the Inquisition
Yet the consideration of mitigating factors does not exonerate the Church from the obligation to express profound regret for the weaknesses of so many of her sons and daughters who sullied her face, preventing her from fully mirroring the image of her crucified Lord, the supreme witness of patient love and of humble meekness. From these painful moments of the past a lesson can be drawn for the future, leading all Christians to adhere fully to the sublime principle stated by the Council: The truth cannot impose itself except by virtue of its own truth, as it wins over the mind with both gentleness and power.
The modern synthesis of the Crusades in many academic and political institutions is that the soldiers of the First Crusade appeared without any warning to pillage and plunder the Holy Land and slaughter non-Christians.
In truth, well before 1095 the year of the first Crusade which came to the aid of the Byzantine emperor in the West who feared Constantinople would fall to the Muslims, wars of Islamic aggression had already seized control of the formerly Christian territories of Egypt, Palestine, Syria, North Africa, Spain, most of Asia Minor and Southern France. Italy was under assault, Sicily was eventually taken. Muslim invasions would be led into Europe.
3 of 5 Christianity’s primatial sees had already been captured: Jerusalem, Antioch, Alexandria. Constantinople would eventually fall. Only Rome escaped…narrowly.
Any war, primitive or modern, is gruesome and brutal.
Here is John Paul II’s prayer during a celebration of the Great Jubilee in 2000:
Let us forgive and ask forgiveness! While we praise God who, in his merciful love, has produced in the Church a wonderful harvest of holiness, missionary zeal, total dedication to Christ and neighbour, we cannot fail to recognize the infidelities to the Gospel committed by some of our brethren, especially during the second millennium. Let us ask pardon for the divisions which have occurred among Christians, for the violence some have used in the service of the truth and for the distrustful and hostile attitudes sometimes taken towards the followers of other religions.
The silence of Islamic religious leaders
Asking forgiveness for wars of aggression
or disavowal of the acts committed by some
in the name of their prophet
Our Christian baptism
does not put us on a “high horse" as the president said...
Far from it
We are touched by Christ
For service and to be his disciples
After today’s gospel miracle
He set out on a preaching mission
Throughout the whole region
We are empowered to
Preach about Christ’s church
His gospel message
And to condemn
The abuse of human rights
And religious freedom
Wherever they occur
Not because the church
Can claim its members
Are sinless saints
Christ and his church
Are the world’s best hope
Not its greatest threat
As some media pundits
And militant atheists
Would have us believe.
We must be careful
Not to let criticism of religious extremism
turn to religious indifferentism
Or hostility to
Persons of any religious faith
But this is not a time for Christianity
To be in bed with the flu
Or to be weakened
By medicinal doses of guilt
Whether served up to us
By the media or our president
Out of an abudance
Of political correctness
Should our voices for an end to
Senseless violence against civilians
Men, women and children
And graphic, public executions
Can we at least agree to condemn
And slave markets
Can we condemn
Cowardly acts of terrorism
Defend against them
And try to make the world
A safer place?
Lent is almost upon us.
A perfect opportunity
To express our grief in ashes
And our hope in Jesus Christ
To pray, fast and do penance