TEXT: 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time, October 29, 2023

October 29, 2023 Father De Celles Homily

The 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time

October 29, 2023

Homily by Fr. John De Celles

St. Raymond of Peñafort Catholic Church

Springfield, VA

A few weeks ago, we had a Candidate Forum here at St. Raymonds,

inviting all the folks running for state delegate and state senator in our area

—no matter what party.

We’ve done this a couple of times, but this time something different happened:

For the first time a Democrat candidate showed up,

state senator Dave Marsden.

I gave the guy a lot of credit because it seems our parishioners

have the reputation for having conservative, traditional-value priorities,

and that hardly describes the Democrat party nowadays. 

So, it took some courage, I thought.

But near the end I changed my mind: It wasn’t courage, it was arrogance.

Because after the people had asked their questions,

Marsden asked if he could speak frankly in his closing comments.

And then he told us,

“We’ve just spent a lot of time here tonight talking about fringe issues.”  

“Fringe issues…”?

These were the supposed fringe issues we discussed:

  • firing teachers for using the wrong pronoun for a self-identifying transgender student
  • teachers keeping secrets from parents about their children attempting to “change their gender”
  • passing laws to require medical personnel to give medical care to babies who survive an abortion
  • a constitutional amendment enshrining a so-called “right” to “same-sex marriage”
  • support for school choice, allowing parents to choose their child’s school
  • laws allowing assisted suicide

All these the senator called “fringe issues”:

defending parents’ rights;

protecting children with transgender dysphoria;

defending the life of the unborn and the sick.

Pro-life, pro-parent, pro-children.

These are fringe…to him, but not to us.


Do you ever ask yourself how things got to be so crazy in the world?

So many problems, so much bitterness and madness?


Perhaps because of people like the senator, the elites of this world,

who don’t understand what’s really important.

Because if you don’t understand what’s really important,

really fundamental to society, and what to do about it,

         how will you know how to deal with the lesser things?


Today Jesus reminds us of what should be most important to all of us.

When asked what the greatest law is, He answers without hesitation,

“You shall love the Lord, your God,

with all your heart,

with all your soul,

and with all your mind.

This is the greatest and the first commandment.

The second is like it:

You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

Love is most important.

It is the most fundamental and central issue in our lives.

And if we don’t get love right, we will mess up everything else.

But that means you have to understand what “love”

actually means and requires in the first place.

Today you hear people say, “Love is love.”

That is the dumbest, most inane, naïve, infantile saying ever.

The love of a mother for her child is radically different than

the love a stranger has for that same child.

Just as the love a good husband has for his wife is diametrically opposed

to the so-called “love” a pedophile claims to have for his victim.

And believe me, there are a whole bunch of people

—a movement in politics and psychology—

who say they are not so different after all.


Understanding true love comes from understanding God, who is love Himself,

         and understanding what He means by love.

And so, the most important thing in every situation,

whether it’s political or emotional or religious,

is true love.

And what does God tell us about love?

First, that He created us to love us, and for us to love Him.

And that, “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son,

that whosoever believes in him should not perish,

but have everlasting life.”

And that God the Son loved us so much that He died on the Cross for our sins.

And so, He tells us the most important thing for us to do in every situation,

at every moment is to

“Love the Lord, your God, with all your…soul, and…mind.”

And then He says, from that, move to loving your neighbor,

because He, God, loves them as much as He loves you.


Sadly, a lot of folks don’t understand what “loving your neighbor” means.

They think that love means never saying or doing anything

that might offend your neighbor or make them feel “unsafe”

—unless, of course, your neighbor is a Christian and conservative.

Then you can offend them, because it’s okay to hate a hater—they say.

But Jesus has a different view of love—the true view, the cosmically real view.

In today’s first reading we hear a list of particular ways

God tells us we should love our neighbor:

“You shall not molest or oppress an alien…

“You shall not wrong any widow or orphan….

“If you lend money to one of your poor neighbors,

you shall not act like an extortioner toward him…”


But if we look at where this is in Scripture, in the Book of Exodus,

we find that it is near the middle of a long list of detailed rules that tell us

what it means to love your neighbor–what love requires of us.

Detailed rules that flow from a more fundamental set of general rules

about loving your neighbor: the Ten Commandments

—which are right at the beginning of this long list in Exodus.

And again, scripture makes it very clear

that the Ten Commandments themselves are actually a detailed set of rules explaining the two most fundamental rules.

Rules that Jesus quotes from the Old Testament today:

“You shall love the Lord, your God…This is the greatest…commandment.

The second is like it: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

My point in all this is that

the most important thing to remember in any decision we make is

that it must be consistent with loving God and loving our neighbor.


But so many of our leaders and the elite of our society just don’t get this.

The other night the senator thought that we should have been asking about

the really important issues, which according to him were things like

funding metro and preparing the way for 100% use of electric vehicles.

And while those may be important and can, I guess, in some circuitous way,

involve how we love God and neighbor,

they would be way, way, down the list.

What would be first on the list?

Let’s go back to God’s list of love.

What’s the very first of the Ten Commandments

that tells us about loving our neighbor?

It’s number 4: “Honor your mother and father.”

And so, at the forum we asked about parental rights in education of their kids

and the role of teachers in supporting those parental rights.

Notice: The 4th commandment doesn’t say anything about

honoring your teacher, or superintendent, or your school board member,

or even your senator.

That honoring of authority flows from and cannot exist

without honoring the most primary authorities, God and parents.

So, if something or someone doesn’t recognize that first honor

goes to God and parents, we stop and say, this doesn’t work.


Now, I don’t mean to pick on this particular senator here,

but he just seemed to encapsulate so much that’s wrong

with our leaders today.

When he was asked if teachers should inform parents

if their child is identifying as transgender or whatever,

he responded by saying, essentially,

“Well, I used to work in juvenile corrections,

so I know some parents just can’t be trusted not to react badly to that and might hurt the child.”

Okay…some parents aren’t good people…especially parents of kids in jail.

But does that mean that the typical parents should not be trusted

to take care of their children?

And how do we know that the teacher has the best interest of the child in mind?

Are teachers infallible or impeccable?

Should the government presume that the teacher

not only knows the child better than the parent,

and knows what’s best for the children better than the parent,

but also, most importantly,

that the teacher loves the child better than the parent?

It goes back to the idiotic expression, “Love is love.”

No, not really.

This is the root problem in society: misunderstanding love.

In this case, misunderstanding the love of parents

and what it means and requires of them as parents,

and of the rest of us, who are here to support them in their love.


Then there’s the 2nd commandment about loving your neighbor:

You shall not kill.

Imagine that a doctor tries to abort a little baby.

But the baby survives and is born.

And the doctors and nurses just leave him there in the delivery room,

on the table or maybe even in the waste can,

leaving him to die alone and in pain.

And then imagine a leader saying that is trivia or a fringe issue.

How do you love your neighbor if you kill him?

Or let the most defenseless die without showing care for him?

In Exodus today, it explains that the commandment not to kill thereby requires,

“You shall not wrong any…orphan…”

Who is an orphan if not an aborted but surviving baby?

If a politician doesn’t understand that that’s not a fringe issue,

more important than funding metro, what kind of human being is he,

much less what kind of leader?


I don’t know about you, but I’m so very tired, exhausted really, of people,

whether it’s the elites of this world or their brainwashed followers,

telling me that they know what’s best for me.

They know what I should think, how I should speak, how I should feel, and even

what I should believe.

They know what’s really important, and the rest of us who don’t get it

are just ignorant little peons.

Next Tuesday, November 7, election day in Virginia,

I’m going to tell the elite of this world what I think about that.

I’m not voting for what their priorities are.

I’m voting for my priorities.

And my priorities are to try to love God

with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength.

And to love the families, parents, and children of Fairfax and Virginia.

I pray and hope that those are your priorities as well,

and that you will join me in voting for them.