Summary: It is not an act of love to tell those who are committing grave sin that their actions are OK. We must respect human dignity like the Ugandan martyrs.
Monday of 9th Week in Course 2013
Gaudium et Spes
The setting of the Book of Tobit, one of the inspired books of Scripture that came to us only in Greek, is of an exiled family in a land with an oppressive government, one that enforced laws prohibiting certain practices of the Jewish faith. The one in question is God’s command to bury the dead in a respectful manner. Tobit relates how his faith impelled him to rush from his dinner and risk his life in order to obey the commandment of God, and bury a murdered fellow Jew. Later in the story we learn that he was so weary after his labor that he fell asleep and a chance act by a bird left him blinded.
Today we celebrate Saint Charles Lwanga and his companions, martyrs of Central Africa. This will be a politically incorrect and respectfully truthful homily–I offer that as cautionary in a day when Christians are again being persecuted for holding to the Supreme Truth. To quote Catholic Online: “The Society of Missionaries of Africa (known as the White Fathers) had only been in Uganda for 6 years and yet they had built up a community of converts whose faith would outshine their own. The earliest converts were soon instructing and leading new converts that the White Fathers couldn't reach. Many of these converts lived and taught at King Mwanga's court.” Catholic and Anglican converts lived in peace.
Now Mwanga was a homosexual predator who forced himself on his young teenage attendants. Mwanga began his persecution by killing an Anglican missionary and his companions; his Catholic counselor, Joseph Mukasa, reprimanded him for the action, demanded he give up his perverse lifestyle, and was martyred after forgiving the ruler. A general persecution of all Christians began a few months later, when catechist Charles Lwanga and twenty-three other Catholics and Anglicans were murdered for their faith. As they went to their deaths, one of them said to the White Fathers, “why are you so sad? This is nothing compared to the joys you have taught us to look forward to.” Their faith impelled them to rush to their deaths so that they could obey the commandment of God.
Tertullian wrote that the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the faith. Although the Catholic missionaries were expelled from southern Uganda, the surviving Christians kept up the faith, even printing a catechism in their own language. Without priests, sacraments or liturgy the faith continued to grow, and after the tyrant Mwanga died, the White Fathers, returning, found five hundred Christians and a thousand catechumens waiting for them.
The one who preaches the Truth–who is a person, Jesus Christ–will, like Jesus, suffer persecution. Corrupt government officials may in fact kill the preachers of the Truth and seize the vineyard. But they cannot prevail in the end. Today it appears that those who treasure the Truth about human sexuality are on the ropes. State after state, nation after nation have codified in law the Big Lie that homosexual abuse is equivalent to sacramental marriage between man and woman. The Church continues to teach that “it devolves on humanity to establish a political, social and economic order which will knowingly serve man and help individuals as well as groups to affirm and develop the dignity proper to them.” (Gaudium et Spes 9) We insist that those with homosexual orientations deserve respect, but that engaging in homosexual acts is a grave moral evil, precisely because these acts are abusive and degrading of human dignity. If we claim to love those who are so afflicted, it is itself an abusive act to claim that they have a right to engage in those acts. It is an act of love to insist that, for their own physical, emotional and spiritual health, they live chaste and celibate lives. Indeed, those with homosexual inclinations can become holy, and role models for others struggling with that affliction.
On this day of celebration of the twenty-plus martyrs of Uganda, let’s pray for our government rulers who would force us to do evil–pray for their conversion and healing and holiness. Let’s also pray for those enslaved to all kinds of sexual perversion and addiction, because God loves all of us with a love that drove the Second Person of the Trinity all the way to Calvary, so that we his witnesses could give everyone knowledge of salvation through forgiveness of sin.