March for Life. This Wednesday, January 22, hundreds of thousands of Christians and other people of goodwill will participate in the 40th annual “March for Life” on the Mall in Washington, commemorating the 41st anniversary of the Supreme Court’s 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade creating the so-called “right to abortion.” Perhaps no court decision or legislation has so directly and fundamentally had such a wide and terrible effect on our nation. And not only in the devastation of 60 million or so babies it has killed, or the millions of mothers whose lives it has ruined. But also in its shaping of our American culture into a culture that degrades human life more and more every day, transforming human beings from persons whose lives have value and meaning in themselves into things that have value and meaning only to the extent other persons who have power over them chose to give them.
In the last year many people have tried to tell us we should not talk about this, or at least not talk about it so much, or so loudly or so vehemently. Some would say that joining the March reflects this wrong-headed “obsession.” They have even tried to twist Pope Francis words to silence and shame us. They say His Holiness has called upon us to stop being “obsessed” with abortion. But of course, they lied. As I have written and preached about before, what the Holy Father said was that the Church “cannot be obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines.” In other words, when we talk about the sin of abortion we can’t treat it as some doctrine uniquely separate from all the other Catholic doctrines, but rather remember that it is intimately related to the radicalness of God’s love and His commandment to love our neighbor.
We recall and draw upon the many writings of the popes and saints who have explained in great detail this beautiful, rich and positive teaching on the “Culture of Life,” especially the writings of Blessed John Paul II, whom Pope Francis will declare a saint on April 27 of this year. In particular we recall how when asked to respond to accusations that his “repeated condemnation of any legalization of abortion” was “obsessive,” Bd. John Paul responded:
“For man, the right to life is the fundamental right. ….[T]here is no other right that so closely affects the very existence of the person!…The legalization of the termination of pregnancy is none other than the authorization given to an adult, with the approval of an established law, to take the lives of children yet unborn and thus incapable of defending themselves….It is difficult to imagine a more unjust situation, and it is very difficult to speak of obsession in a matter such as this, where we are dealing with a fundamental imperative of every good conscience – the defense of the right to life of an innocent and defenseless human being…Therefore, I must repeat that I categorically reject every accusation or suspicion concerning the Pope’s alleged “obsession” with this issue. We are dealing with a problem of tremendous importance, in which all of us must show the utmost responsibility and vigilance. We cannot afford forms of permissiveness that would lead directly to the trampling of human rights, and also to the complete destruction of values which are fundamental not only for the lives of individuals and families but for society itself.”
On Wednesday three busloads of St. Raymond parishioners will drive down to the Mall to proclaim the good news of the Gospel of Life, including the Lord’s calls to all of us to love our neighbor, even if our neighbor is a tiny unborn baby. Please join us. Sign-up sheets for the bus are located in the narthex of the Church today.
Readings at Mass during Ordinary Time. As we begin the New Year of Our Lord 2014, putting behind us both the Advent and Christmas Seasons, we also begin “Ordinary Time” in the liturgical calendar of the Church. As I’ve mentioned before, the term “ordinary” does not mean “not special,” but rather refers to the numerical ordering of the weeks of the year: “cardinal numbers” refer to quantity (i.e., one, two three, etc.), while “ordinal numbers” refer to the order of things (i.e., first, second, third…). So “Ordinary (or “ordinal”) Time” refers to the order of the weeks of the year that are not part of a special season (Advent, Christmas, Lent, Triduum, Easter). So today we celebrate the Second Sunday of Ordinary Time.
At Sunday Masses during Ordinary Time we always read a specific set of readings that are laid out for the year, based on a three year cycle of Years A, B, and C. Each of these cycles feature a semicontinuous reading of one of three Synoptic Gospel, so that in Year A we read from the Gospel of Matthew, in Year B we read Mark and in Year C we read Luke.
If you want to determine what year or cycle we are in (A, B, or C), remember that Year C is always a year whose number is evenly divisible by the number three. Last year, the Year 2013, is evenly divisible by three (2013 ÷ 3 = 671), so last year was a Year C, meaning this year is Year A—the year of St. Matthew.
Interestingly, as today we celebrate the “Second Sunday of Ordinary Time,” you might notice that there was no “First Sunday of Ordinary Time.” This really is due to a misnomer. Ordinary Time always begins on the day after the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, which is always either on a Sunday or Monday. So that the first day of Ordinary time is always a Monday or Tuesday, i.e., “the First Monday/Tuesday of Ordinary Time.” This means the first week of Ordinary Time actually precedes the first Sunday that falls in Ordinary Time, which (as the first day of the week) should more precisely be called “the Sunday of the Second Week of Ordinary Time” but is for some inexplicable reason called “The Second Sunday of Ordinary Time.” O well.
Also, interestingly, the Gospel reading for the Second Sunday of Ordinary Time is always taken from St. John’s Gospel, picking up soon after Jesus’ Baptism. So that it’s not until next week, the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time, that we begin the semicontinuous reading of Matthew. Note that John’s Gospel is not part of the regular rotation of semicontinuous readings (since it is very different from the other three Gospels), but rather interspersed at various times of the year.
Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles