Summary: We must mourn the sinful systems of our society, but we also must pray and work and rejoice over Christ's ultimate triumph.
20th Sunday After Pentecost 2014
A reading from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Ephesians
Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, 16 making the most of the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery; but be filled with the Spirit, 19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart, 20 always and for everything giving thanks in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father.
21 Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ.
The continuation of the Holy Gospel according to St. John
So he came again to Cana in Galilee, where he had made the water wine. And at Capernaum there was an official whose son was ill. 47 When he heard that Jesus had come from Judea to Galilee, he went and begged him to come down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death. 48 Jesus therefore said to him, “Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe.” 49 The official said to him, “Sir, come down before my child dies.” 50 Jesus said to him, “Go; your son will live.” The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and went his way. 51 As he was going down, his servants met him and told him that his son was living. 52 So he asked them the hour when he began to mend, and they said to him, “Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him.” 53 The father knew that was the hour when Jesus had said to him, “Your son will live”; and he himself believed, and all his household.
+In nomine Patris et Filii et Spiritus Sancti, Amen.
The Offertory verse of today’s Mass is one of the most poignant and beautiful Scriptures and chants in the Church’s treasury of psalms, hymns and spiritual songs: Super flúmina Babylónis illic sédimus et flévimus: dum recordarémur tui, Sion. “Above the rivers of Babylon did we sit down and weep, when we remembered thee, O Sion.” Exiled from their homeland, aware of the destruction of the Temple where they daily made music for the Lord, the Levites mourned for what was. Moreover, the last verses of the psalm cursed those who had taken them captive, and they are so bloodthirsty that the Church no longer includes them in the new Divine Office. There may be no more intense passage of grief in the Bible, until the words St. John used to describe Jesus’s reaction to seeing Mt. Zion and the Jewish Temple, hundreds of years later: Jesus wept.
The Lord taught, “Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted.” We can interpret this to mean we will be comforted when someone dies or is injured or ill, but that is probably not the original intent of Christ’s blessing. In the context of the Beatitudes, which are just as much challenges and ways of life as anything else, we should hear Jesus urging us to mourn over sin, especially the sins of our society. We need to identify the systems of sin in our culture and weep over them with Our Lord. St. Paul’s words to the Ephesians are also written to us, “rescue the times, because the days are evil.”
Never have atheists and people enslaved to sexual perversion been so passionately devoted to legitimizing their practices and unbelief, and imposing them on all of society. One militant atheist in California proposed that it should be illegal for religious believers to teach religion to their children. In a lawsuit recently filed against those who opposed a Houston ordinance supporting homosexual conduct, pastors were subpoenaed to supply all information on their opposition to those attacking them, a blatant attack on two fundamental rights of citizens. That’s just in this country. It has been estimated that militant Islamists all over Asia and Africa are murdering Christians and destroying Christian shrines and churches at a rate unseen since the heyday of Islam between the seventh and fifteenth centuries. The Lord wants us to identify these atrocities and weep over them, and pray for both the victims and victimizers, and do whatever we can to oppose the persecutions. Praying for the victims may mean praying that they keep the faith even until death; praying for those who would destroy our bodies and souls and freedoms means praying for their conversion to justice and Truth.
How can we rescue the times? First, we must pray, and pray especially for the spread of the Gospel of Christ, which is fully taught and celebrated in the Catholic Church. Second, we must get involved in that evangelical effort, and thus be sensitive at all times to the needs of the souls around us who are all hungry for the Word of God and the sacraments, even if they don’t know it. Third, we must be involved in society, always telling the truth about what is right and just, and about who is standing up for the good, and who are spreading lies and promoting evil. Yes, that means politics. Aristotle taught famously that politics is the application of ethics to society. We all have a responsibility to register to vote, and to vote. Christians stayed away from the polls in great numbers in 2008 and 2012, and that is why the Little Sisters of the Poor are having to fight to keep from paying from murdering unborn children. No, there is no Christian party, no party of God. But we have a duty to discern between candidates, and to vote for those candidates who respect life and human dignity. Vote your conscience before your pocketbook or party allegiance.