27th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Respect Life Sunday)
October 7, 2018
Homily by Fr. John De Celles
St. Raymond of Peñafort Catholic Church
This last year the topic of sexual abuse has been a dominant theme in the news.
Of course, in the Church,
this has taken on particular disgusting and sinister dimensions,
and we’ve spent a lot of time thinking and talking about that.
But sexual abuse isn’t the exclusive problem of the Church.
In the last year, society at large has become more acutely aware
that sexual abuse is a huge problem for all of us,
particularly the sexual abuse, including sexual harassment, of women.
And so we’ve seen the rise of the so called “me-too” movement:
women coming forward to reveal
that they have been sexually harassed or worse.
This was sort of initiated or at least publicized by Hollywood actresses
coming out about how powerful men in Hollywood had abused them.
Of course, this is kind of ironic, sadly, since Hollywood has been
one of the main promoters of the sexual abuse of women for decades
—just look at almost any movie and most tv shows,
and we see women constantly exploited for their sexuality.
But the thing is, Hollywood and it’s—for lack of a better word—“leftist” friends,
are turning to their unique set of values to solve the problem.
But they wind up making even greater problems,
because those values are largely morally bankrupt.
So for example, they’re promoting the idea
that we must now always believe the accusations of women,
and that men should never be trusted.
As one politician said recently,
“Guess who’s perpetuating all these kinds of actions?
It’s the men in this country.
And I just want to say to the men in this country, just shut up….”
Of course, we do need to listen to women who claim abuse.
But the idea of always trusting the women and never trusting the man
only aggravates the problem
by turning man and woman further against each other.
The real solution is actually very simple, well known and ancient.
And it comes from Jesus Christ and His Church,
which for 2000 years has clearly and strongly upheld
the dignity of women
and the mutual respect and love male and female
should always, without exception, have for each other.
Actually, this goes back to the roots of our faith in Judaism.
In today’s first reading we literally go back to the beginning,
to the story of how God created man and woman
recorded in beginning of the Bible in the Book of Genesis.
In Chapter 1 of Genesis it tells us that God
“created man in His own image…male and female He created them.
Then in Chapter 2, that we read today,
it says that God created Adam first,
but that it wasn’t “good” that he be alone.
So God created the animals, but none of them could fill his loneliness,
none was a suitable partner for Adam.
And so God created Eve, from the very flesh and bones of Adam.
Adam looks at her in awe and says,
“This one, at last, is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh.”
And it says, “a man clings to his wife, and the two of them become one flesh.”
All this is to say, in part, that women are not animals to be used
for man’s needs or selfishness.
They are made of the same stuff as males, equal to him in dignity.
But also made different, so as to complete mankind—so two can become one—
they are partners.
Different but equal, so that their equality must be mutually loved and respected
through their differences.
Jesus picks up on this theme in today’s gospel.
He quotes both Chapter 1 and 2 of Genesis, in his defense of marriage.
And in that defense he points out that women are equal in dignity to men,
first by citing Genesis’ teaching that both are made in the image of God,
and the 2 become 1 to complement or complete each other.
But also notice how he defends women from a terrible abuse:
men abandoning and divorcing their wives.
Not only does this leave the woman penniless,
but more fundamentally when the man marries another woman
he abuses the sexuality of his ex-wife:
in effect, he has used her sexually,
and now cast her aside as if she were trash
—that is at the heart of adultery.
And remember that Jesus makes it clear that adultery, this demeaning of women,
it isn’t just limited to bodily acts.
In the Sermon on the Mount he warns us:
“…that everyone who looks at a woman with lust
has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”
And so the Catholic Church promotes the dignity and rejects the abuse
It calls us to look at woman not as sexual objects to be used,
either by our eyes or with our bodies,
but to always treat them with love, chastity, and respect.
So, the Church has been right about this all along,
and the Church has the solution for the sexual abuse of women today.
But if the Church has been right on that moral problem for 2000 years,
what other moral problem might she have gotten right?
What about an equally, if not worse, kind of abuse of women,
that involves a different but still fundamental aspect of their sexuality:
And that is the abuse of women we call abortion.
Think about this.
We tell a woman, it’s not a baby so there’s nothing wrong with it.
But of course, it IS a baby, and in her heart she knows it’s a baby,
and that she has killed her baby.
But we tell her she’ll be fine afterwards, and she can move on with life.
But the reality is she will never forgive herself,
and she will be burdened, even crippled,
by guilt and even self-loathing for the rest of her life.
And we pretend it will empower her.
but in reality most of the time it only further subjects women
to the power of men, the fathers of their babies,
who so often force the woman to have an abortion
either directly or through fear of abandonment.
And we tell her it’s her free choice,
but then we don’t tell her about any of the other choices she has,
choices that are not deadly to the baby or traumatic to her.
It seems to me, that abortion is painfully similar to sexual abuse:
both take the woman’s sexuality
and turn it from an expression of joy, love and life,
to an experience of pain, hatred and destruction.
And the scars of both stay with them and effect everything they do
for the rest of their lives.
But the thing is, if we were honest with ourselves, as terrible as sexual abuse is,
abortion is even worse:
sexual abuse only injures,
but abortion always kills…a child—and not just any child,
but the woman’s baby girl or boy.
Given the right care, a woman can be greatly healed
from the traumatic effects of both sexual abuse and abortion,
but no one can bring the aborted baby back to life.
Sexual abuse must be stopped
—God forbids it, reason shows it, and justice demands it.
And the abuse of women through abortion must also be stopped,
for the very same reasons—God, reason and justice.
3 months ago, the President nominated Judge Brett Kavanaugh
to the Supreme Court.
To many of this, it was seen as a God-send:
we knew that Kavanaugh was a strongly pro-life judge
who would work to protect women and their children
from the terrible abuse of abortion.
We had been waiting, working and praying for him for 50 years.
But for the exact same reason, many others immediately decried his nomination.
One of the pro-abortion leaders called him “evil,”
and another promised that he would
“oppose him with everything I got.”
Because you see, abortion was on the line
—no matter what other qualification he has,
that was all that mattered to them.
And they did throw everything they could at him to stop him.
And in the end, when all else failed, they threw one final horrible accusation
that they thought would end his nomination.
The irony is thick here:
they accused him of sexual abuse of a woman
in order to protect their abuse of women in abortion.
In the end however, even though her testimony was compelling, his was too.
Who should we believe, when they both seemed believable?
Again, some said we should believe her no matter what,
and assume that he was guilty because, after all he is a man.
Thanks be to God, clearer heads prevailed,
and again turned to God, reason and justice for an answer.
When no corroborating evidence was presented,
we remembered the fundamental maxim of American Justice that
we must always assume someone innocent
until they are proven guilty.
And some us remembered the words of God the Son himself, Jesus:
“If your brother sins, ….take one or two more with you,
so that by the mouth of two or three witnesses
every fact may be confirmed.”
And in the end a majority of the senate voted yesterday
to confirm Judge Kavanaugh’s appointment to the Supreme Court.
And we will finally put an end to 50 years of a Supreme Court
that has sanctioned the abuse of women through abortion.
So that, thanks be to God, we will finally have
a truly pro-life, and pro-woman majority on the Court.
Sexual abuse of women is a despicable thing,
an abomination before God, reason and justice.
But we cannot show respect for women by throwing out our respect for men.
We can only do so by remembering that
we are created in the image of God as male and female,
meant to cling to each other in love:
to mutually respect and love each other in every aspect of life.
And by appreciating and standing in awe of
the God-given differences between male and female,
especially the sexual differences,
and never use them to exploit or abuse each other.
But all that means we must also respect the dignity of a woman’s sexuality
that is expressed in motherhood.
And we must end the abuse of women that comes through deception
and the rejection and distortion of that great gift through abortion.
As we continue more deeply into the mystery of this Holy Mass,
let us ask our Lord Jesus to pour out His grace upon us,
so that we may truly understand and appreciate the gifts He has given us. Most especially that we may always respect and truly love women,
and protect them from any abuse
of the great and multifaceted gift of their sexuality.