28th Sunday in Ordinary Time, October 12, 2014
Homily by Fr. John De Celles
St. Raymond of Peñafort Catholic Church
One of the strongest themes in the Old Testament is
that God provides his people with all good things,
and this especially symbolized by an abundance of the choicest food.
We see this in our first reading today, from the prophet Isaiah:
“the LORD of hosts will provide for all peoples
a feast of rich food and choice wines.”
And we see it again in today’s Psalm, the famous Psalm 23:
“You spread the table before me in the sight of my foes;
you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.”
Now, for the ancient Jews, as for many ancient people,
there was one meal on earth, one banquet
that people would spend all sorts of money to provide
the most delicious treats and finest wines—and all in abundance.
We do the same today.
The meal I’m talking about, of course, is the wedding banquet.
Now, marriage was also an OT symbol of the love of God for Israel,
not only providing for her but giving her everything he has
including His passionate love, and his very life.
So when you combine these two themes of abundant food and marriage,
the wedding feast because the symbol par excellence
of God’s love for Israel—heaven itself.
And so in today’s Gospel Our Lord tells the parable:
“The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king
who gave a wedding feast for his son.” And he goes on to say:
“I have prepared my banquet,
my calves and fattened cattle are killed,
and everything is ready; come to the feast.”’
It’s interesting, this idea of the wedding feast as a symbol of God’s love
is revealed right at the very beginning of Scripture, in the Garden of Eden.
God creates man as male and female, the first married couple,
and puts them in this luscious Garden, filled with all sorts of plants,
and tell them: “you shall have them for food.”
This is the first wedding feast, celebrated when God gave life to the human race
and gave us every good thing in paradise to fill us with happiness,
to show us his love.
Now, we all know how delightful good food and drink can be.
And how food that is good not only in flavor but also in nutrition
can also make us strong and healthy.
But we also know the opposite is true.
Bad food can make sick, even kill us.
And sometimes food tastes very good, but it’s still deadly.
Sometimes it kills us quickly, like a poison mushroom.
But sometimes it might take years, like eating lot of unhealthy foods,
and dying from heart disease or diabetes.
The deadliness of food also goes back to Genesis.
In the second chapter God warns Adam not to eat from a particular tree:
“for when you eat of it you will surely die.”
Genesis says the devil tempted them, but it also says they thought the apple,
“was good for food and pleasing to the eye,”
And so they ate what God had told them was bad for them,
and were cast out of God’s Garden of abundance
and would eventually die.
My friends not everything that looks or seems good,
is actually really good for you.
Sometimes fruit is delicious food, and sometime it’s just attractive poison.
This is especially true when it comes to understanding
the very first good thing God gave us after life itself:
the wonderful gift of marriage.
The last few decades some folks
has tried to convince us that something that is very bad for us
is as good as marriage.
I’m talking about so-called same-sex “marriage”–or “gay marriage.”
This last week this effort seems to have taken a new step forward,
as the Supreme Court of the United States got involved, sort of.
Over the last year 3 Circuit Courts of Appeal had overturned
5 states’ laws banning same sex marriage,
and on Monday the Supreme Court announced
it would not hear an appeal of those cases.
And because of this Virginia and 4 other states are immediately required
to allow same-sex weddings,
and 6 other states will soon have to follow suit.
Now let me be clear: as I explain in today’s bulletin, which I hope you read,
by passing on these cases, the Supreme Court
left itself free to revisit the issue in another case in the next year or so.
The fight is not over.
In fact, I’m guessing that one or more of the 4 solidly conservative justices,
who also happen to be good Catholics,
might have seen this as sort of strategic retreat for the time being
—to live to fight another day.
I leave that to those good men, and the grace God gives them.
Even so, in the meantime, we have same-sex marriage in Virginia.
But we cannot let our state, and our country,
swallow the poison of same-sex marriage.
Scripture is very clear on this,
but we don’t need the Bible to tell us that marriage
is the union of “male and female…”
Just look at how men and women are naturally, and you see it.
Male and female are not only obviously physically different,
scientists also tell us that even our brains work differently.
But it’s also clear that those differences also complement each other,
complete each other.
Man and woman, literally and figurative, fit together in every way.
And one of the remarkable gifts that comes from those differences fitting together
is the creation of new life–babies!
For all of human history the union of one man and one woman
to love each other and to raise children
has been the source of stability and progress for civilized societies.
A union where the two complementary halves of humanity come together
to nurture the fruit of their love, children,
and teach them to how to love and respect
the dignity of both men and women, and their complementarity.
There is nothing more natural to mankind than heterosexual love and marriage.
It’s as natural and as healthy as eating truly delicious and healthy food.
But some say same sex attraction and marriage are equally natural and good.
Do our bodies indicate this, or the way or brains work?
They don’t fit.
Is it healthy?
No—the bodies were obviously not made for this,
and studies after study shows the geometrically increased health risks.
Some say, “but they love each other.”
But mutual love doesn’t give you a right to sexually interact or to marry.
We don’t permit grown men to sexually interact with young girls,
and mothers can’t marry their adult sons.
No matter how much they love each other.
Some say, but “gays” were “born that way,” so it’s “natural to them.”
But, is cancer natural?
After all, it appears in nature?
Does that make it “good”?
If someone is born with a heart defect, do we smile and say,
“that’s great, it’s natural!”
Some say, hey, “they’re not hurting anyone, let them marry.”
But is that true?
Setting aside the ways “gay marriage” can hurt the “partners” and their children,
let’s look at the bigger picture.
For all of history,
there has never been a human society that has had “gay marriage.”
Marriage has always and only meant the union of male and female,
and that union has been the foundation of society.
But now the courts are telling us to believe that
if we change the composition of the very foundation of society,
nothing bad will happen.
And they’re not saying, “let’s try an experiment in a small society
and see what happens over a few generations.”
“hey, they like it in Vermont, so you will like it in Virginia—right now!”
They won’t even let us use new drugs until they’re tested on lab rats,
but they want to accept this into society, untested,
and just trust them it will have no negative effect.
Some say, “but this doesn’t affect “straight” people, so don’t worry about it”
But that’s not true.
They’re changing the meaning of shared social institution,
and that can have huge consequences.
First of all, society gives married couples all sort of benefits,
benefits that your tax dollars pay for,
like Medicaid and Social security.
Doesn’t paying taxes to support these marital benefits affect us? ,
That’s why Congress prohibits the spending of taxpayer funds on abortion.
So it does affect us all, financially.
But it also has deeper fundamental effects on all of us.
Like a body eating poisonous fruit,
the whole body will get sick and even die.
Think of this.
They’re taking away the fundamental definition of marriage,
and not really replacing it with anything.
Marriage is no longer a sacred institution rooted in the nature of man itself,
meant to create loving families that nurture good children,
and so build a just and happy citizens in society.
All that’s left now is a relationship between people who say they love each other
—and want their love publically approved.
Marriage is now rooted in nature and the sacred,
but something contrived by capricious human laws.
Friends, that is poison to the body politic.
Think about it.
With this new wide open definition,
what will prohibit polygamy
—having two or three or 20 spouses at the same time,
if they love each other?
Some scoff at that, but back in December a federal judge in Utah
declared that state’s law against polygamy to be unconstitutional.
It’s being appealed, but to the same Circuit Court
that overturned Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage last year.
They will win that case, and it will go on and on like this,
extending marriage to every strange combination you can imagine
— because nothing can stop them.
You say, well so what? Live and let live.
But will you be saying that when they legalize incest?
How will you explain that to your children, or protect them from that?
And when, after changing the meaning of “marriage,”
they change the meaning of “parenthood,”
what will you say when they take your children away from you
calling you an “unfit parent” because you taught them
that same sex marriage, polygamy and incest are wrong?
Some of you are saying, you’re crazy father, none of that can happen.
But 50 years ago, no one even dreamed same sex marriage could ever happen.
Just 10 short years ago 60 percent opposed it.
Now, out of nowhere, only 42% oppose it.
Finally, some of you are saying, Father, “you just hate gay people.”
[That is a dirty lie.]
I do not hate them: they are created in the image of God,
they are my brothers and sisters, my sons and daughters, and I love them.
But they have a problem, just like you and I have our own problems.
And in love, as a spiritual Father,
I can’t let them, or you, be poisoned by the lies others are feeding us
—I must give the bread of truth and life.
So what do we do?
One simple thing: we vote.
Some think the election in 3 weeks isn’t very important.
Right now, the fate of traditional marriage,
not to mention the right to life and religious liberty,
is in the hands of the Supreme Court.
And in the next 6 years the senator we elect next month will have a big say
in choosing three or four new Supreme Court Justices!
But the incumbent is a strong supporter of “gay marriage”,
as well as abortion and the HHS contraception mandate
–you know, the regs that will close down
the Little Sisters of the Poor.
But his opponent is on the opposite side on all those issues
—pro-traditional marriage, pro-life, pro-religious liberty.
And the same seems to be true in the races for Representative.
From what I’ve seen, it looks like they’re all towing their own party’s lines:
and the Democrat Party is officially strongly
for gay marriage, abortion and the contraception mandate,
while the Republican Party opposes all that.
I don’t endorse candidates, or parties, but I do ask:
how can a Catholic vote for a candidate who’s pro-“gay marriage,”
much less one who’s also pro-abortion, anti-religious liberty?
And how can any Catholic think this election is not important enough
for you to take a few minutes to vote on November 4?
And then there’s prayer.
October is the month of the Rosary, so get those beads out and pray every day,
asking Our Lord and His Mother to intervene
to save marriage and family in America.
And most importantly, there’s the great prayer of Christ and His Church:
It is in the Eucharist that is the fulfillment on earth of God’s promise
“provide for all peoples a feast of rich food and choice wines.”
This is the wedding feast of the Lord and His Bride the Church,
blessed are those called to the Supper of the Lamb of God,
as we feast on the food of angels, the Lord’s own Body.
Let us turn now to the Lord at His Marriage Feast,
and pray that he may protect our nation
from the poison of false notions of love.
And nourished and strengthened by this most wonderful food from heaven
let us leave here today to spread the good news of God’s
generous and life-giving gift of marriage and family.