Sermons

Summary: We must this November take our faith into the voting booth, and avoid supporting people who would enfeeble the Christian conscience.

Tuesday of the 22nd Week in Course 2020

There are two species of spirit, pneuma in the Greek, and we see the first, the holy variety, in St. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians today. Here in chapter 2, Paul has just written about the reward of the just, which we long for: “But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him,” (That would make a good song, wouldn’t it?) But what no eye or ear or heart has perceived, God has revealed through the Holy Spirit, who can go anywhere, penetrate any void, to help us commune with the Blessed Trinity. In a sense, the Holy Spirit is like a solvent, and in that spiritual solvent, our own spirit can be united and in a small way comprehend the plan of God for our forever happiness.

The church at Corinth in Paul’s day was a very charismatic community. Now that got them into trouble from time to time, like the occasion when different segments of the community claimed to follow Paul, and others Apollos. And all of them thought they were inspired by God. But when we are in the mind of Christ, discerning His will and hearing His Word, there can be a true sympathy between our spirit and God’s spirit. And when we comprehend God’s truth, we might not be able to express it in English or Greek or even Latin. We might, as the Corinthians do, speak in tongues, or in groans, that demand interpretation by another Christian who can express the truths in our vernacular. Sound weird or even impossible? I’ve experienced it during my time with the charismatic renewal, and I am convinced that it is possible even in our day, as long as it is subject to discernment by the leaders of the Church. Otherwise it can lead to the kind of chaos and anarchy that we are currently experiencing in the political arena in too many cities. But we need to know that this is one of the manifestations of the power of God, won for us by Jesus Christ in His passion, death and Resurrection.

The Church is led by weak humans, but they are empowered with the authority of Jesus Christ. The people Jesus attracted were particularly impressed with His acting and speaking with authority. The other rabbis–and you’ll notice that Jesus doesn’t want His leaders to be called by that name–the other rabbis, when they taught, would answer questions by saying something like “Reb Gamaliel was of the opinion that such and such, but Reb Hillel thought that this and that. . .” In other words, they taught with the authority of some other rabbi, not their own.

But Jesus taught and acted with authority, like the prophets. That’s why earlier in the Gospel when Jesus surveyed the disciples, they said the people mostly thought He was a prophet like Elijah or Isaiah. Jesus might say, “You have heard that Moses taught a man could divorce his wife, but I say differently.” And when He taught authoritatively, He also acted authoritatively. In the Gospel today He drives out a demon after the demon testifies that He is the Holy One of God. Moreover, the man who had been possessed suffered no long-term effects from the possession. There was no harm. Jesus always goes to the nth degree in His work, showing His divinity to anyone open to the truth.

Jesus calls us today to speak and act with authority, but always under the authority of the Church. For instance, I can preach, but I am responsible to my pastor, and ultimately to the Archbishop. This helps us–laity and clergy alike–not to make things up, or do things without cause or thought. We are all, admittedly, weak human beings. Not every idea in our head is inspired by a good spirit. If we wonder about something that comes to us, for instance when we read the Scriptures, it’s a good idea to seek counsel before spreading it to others. That counsel for us married should first of all come from our spouse. That’s why my wife sees all my homilies first. And if there’s still some confusion or questions, there’s always some good theologian available at Catholic Answers or a local Catholic university. But first, check your Catechism.

Today we have an incredible political challenge facing us. I don’t need to name names for you to understand. On one hand we have national candidates who are unapologetically Christian by profession, and who respect the freedom of religion, the right to life from conception to natural death, and the other freedoms listed in the Bill of Rights. On the other hand we have candidates who have vowed to make religious orders pay for contraceptives and abortion causing drugs, and to make everyone pay for abortions on demand, and impose a religious test like “no Knights of Columbus allowed” for federal office. We must this November take our faith into the voting booth, and avoid supporting people who would enfeeble the Christian conscience. And if you don’t know who I’m talking about, you need to do some research. God bless us all in our choices.

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