Third Sunday in Ordinary Time
January 21, 2018
Homily by Fr. John De Celles
St. Raymond of Peñafort Catholic Church
In the 242-year history of the United States
our nation has had some terribly dark days,
that both scarred and defined our nation for decades to come.
For example, one thinks of April 12, 1861,
when rebel forces fired the first shots of the Civil War at Fort Sumter;
or December 7, 1941, when Japanese Imperial forces
launched a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor;
or September 11, 2001, when Al Qaeda attacked
the Pentagon and the Twin Towers.
But tomorrow we remember another of the darkest days
in America’s history: January 22, 1973,
the day the Supreme Court, in a decision called Roe v. Wade,
ruled that women have a right to kill their unborn babies.
That day seemed only to immediately effect the life of one baby:
the so-called “baby Roe.”
But like Ft. Sumter, Pearl Harbor and 9/11
it would have far reaching deadly effects in America and the whole world,
as the harbinger of the death millions of other unborn babies.
It was the beginning of what the Popes have called
a “culture of death” in the western world.
Since 1973 there have been over 60 million abortions committed in America,
almost 60 times more than all the Americans killed in wars
in our entire history.
At least in war Americans have usually
had a fighting chance to defend themselves,
and were fighting for some just cause.
But where is the just cause that demands
the death of completely defenseless and totally innocent human beings,
tiny unborn babies that we should not be attacking but protecting?
How can a culture atone for this barbarism?
And how can a culture not be corrupted
by such depraved indifference to human life?
In fact, it has been corrupted.
In particular wide-scale acceptance of abortion has corrupted
4 important groups that are essential for the well-being of society:
First it corrupted the legal system, in the persons of judges and lawyers
whose primary purpose should be to protect and defend the innocent,
and assure “justice for all”
—for both the powerful and the weak.
Instead they have become the guarantors and apologists
for the slaughter of the weakest and most innocent of society.
And it effected the medical system, as doctors and nurses,
whose primary purpose should be
to foster and care for human life and health,
–to “first, do no harm” to human life—
by making these doctors and nurses
the executioners of the most vulnerable life,
and assailants of their own patients
–in both abortions, and euthanasia.
But most of all it corrupted motherhood,
that most wonderful of all gifts to the human family,
the heart of the family,
the school of love for all children
and thus, for all human beings everywhere.
Roe/Wade corrupted motherhood by trying,
and too often succeeding, to transform it
from being the epitome of selfless loving sacrifice,
to being the co-conspirator in death.
And in the end, these poor women,
whose lives have been destroyed by abortion and the lies that support it,
these 2nd victims of abortion are ignored and ridiculed
for expressing their pain and feelings of guilt.
And as even abortion became acceptable,
it lowered the bar and further corrupted motherhood
seeming to confirm the lie of radical feminist
that motherhood was something to be avoided,
and thereby making contraception the “responsible norm”
rather than the shameful aberration it had always been.
Motherhood became a disease,
and contraception was the antidote, and abortion the cure.
And stay at home moms were wasting their lives,
and large families—even families with only 3 or 4 kids—
suddenly became a drain on society.
And the corruption continues to grow—now even corrupting science.
For example, science continues to develop new procedures
that seem to be, in a sense, “pro-life”:
the amazing developments sometimes called
“in vitro fertilization.”
Unfortunately, this is also steeped in the culture of death.
First, it transforms the divine gift of procreation
from the result of the acts of love of two parents,
to the result of the mechanical skills of scientists and lab technicians:
babies are not conceived, they are manufactured.
But beyond that we also know that
all forms of in vitro fertilization require the making of multiple embryos.
After one of these embryos—tiny little babies—
is implanted in her mother’s womb, the other embryos
—other tiny babies of that same mother—
are usually “destroyed”, or killed,
although sometimes they are frozen, like a slab of inanimate meat.
Another example of the deadly effects of Roe/Wade is
“Embryonic Stem Cell Research.”
Doctors take the techniques they invented in in-vitro fertilization
and throw aside the false façade of trying to help families have babies,
and now brag about manufacturing babies
simply for the purpose of killing them and using their bodies
for experimentation and research.
The Nazi monster, Dr. Josef Mengele, would be proud of this ingenuity.
Finally, we see the issue of cloning coming forward.
Talk about the inhumanity of manufacturing people:
scientists seeking to produce children
without even the remote involvement of any parents at all!
We can go on and on.
All of it just shows how that day 45 years ago this Monday
changed America, and really the world,
and made both a more deadly place to live in.
It changed our whole way of thinking about human life, and not for the better.
But we are not without great signs of hope.
while our country has had to fight bloody violent wars
to end slavery, and to stop imperialist hegemony and defeat terrorism,
the battle against Roe v. Wade is being waged, and can be won,
without any violence at all:
we can elect presidents, congressmen and senators
to change laws, and approve sensible pro-life judges.
In fact, this past year has seen several events that prove this.
In particular, with the election of our current president, love him or hate him,
we have a new strongly pro-life Justice on the Supreme Court,
and 12 new pro-life Circuit Court judges.
And, whatever your politics or personal feelings about the man,
these judges were appointed by one of the most outspoken
pro-life president this country has had in the last 50 years,
a president, freely elected, without violence or coup.
And of course,
there is always that great sign of hope we saw last Friday
as for the 44th year in a row hundreds of thousands of people
marched on the Mall in peaceful protest, in the March for Life,
calling for an end of the culture of death once and for all.
Some say we are fighting a losing battle
—that in the end all these signs of hope are a mere flash in the pan.
But they said the same thing 42 years ago about Martin Luther King, Jr..
And yet this last Monday most of you had the day off in his honor.
And today a black man sits on the Supreme Court,
and for 8 years a black man was our president.
If racial equality can triumph,
why can’t the even more basic cause of life also triumph?
Not by violence, and not by anger
—but the blessings of living in this great free republic
informed by the truth of Jesus Christ.
Despite what some people say,
this nation was founded on Christian principles.
And although some would say that America is now in a post-Christian era,
that doesn’t mean that the truth of Jesus Christ cannot be re-discovered.
In today’s first reading we read how even
the depraved ancient city of Nineveh
repented and reformed when confronted by the prophet Jonah.
And as Jesus says elsewhere: “but you have one greater that Jonah here.”
We do have one greater than Jonah: we have Jesus himself.
And by the grace of Jesus Christ our country can change.
And like the Peter, Andrew, John, and James,
Jesus calls out to us today to help him bring that change about.
He says, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
He calls us to join him as he casts his net to draw all hearts and minds
from the dark confusion of the sea of death,
into the light of His Gospel of life.
This week, then,
let us remember that dark day exactly 45 years ago
when the Supreme Court embraced a lie
to open the door to the culture of death that surrounds us today,
with its cold fingers strangling the institutions of
law, medicine, science and even motherhood itself.
But let us also remember
that by the grace of Jesus Christ,
we live in a nation where oppression and lies
can be overcome by truth and faith,
and that every day God gives us great signs
that he has not abandoned us.
Let us accept and spread the grace and truth of Jesus Christ,
let us defend the dignity of every innocent human life,
from conception until natural death.