13th Sunday in Ordinary Time
June 28, 2020
Homily by Fr. John De Celles
St. Raymond of Peñafort Catholic Church
Today’s Scriptures tells us to welcome the prophets God sends us.
As Jesus says in today’s Gospel:
“Whoever receives a prophet because he is a prophet
will receive a prophet’s reward.”
10 years ago this month
Bishop Loverde sent me to St. Raymond’s to be your Pastor.
Now, I’ve always understood my pastorate in the terms of fatherhood:
you call me “Father”, and that is what I try to be toward you.
But the Church also tells us of the “3-fold office” of Pastor:
that is, to be a priest, prophet and a king.
You see me regularly exercise my priesthood, especially at Mass.
And you also see me govern the parish in my “kingly” office.
But you’ve also seen me exercise my office of prophet
as I preach and teach almost every day of the year.
Now prophecy is exercised in many ways.
Sometimes, God speaks to a prophet in a clear voice and says,
“tell my people this…”
This has never happened to me.
Sometimes, prophets merely hear God’s words
in the Scripture and teaching of the Church, and then guided by His grace,
proclaim what they have heard to others.
This is my usual way of being a prophet:
I preach and teach what the Church teaches.
But sometimes God moves the hearts of prophets,
ever so gently, or even violently, nudging them or pushing them,
to proclaim either truth they have been taught
or even to apply that truth in a particular way to the events of the day.
That is what I have come here today to do.
The problem with this, of taking something taught by the Church
and applying it to current events,
is that it’s easy to confuse the nudge of God
with the push of one’s own opinions.
The former is prophesy,
the latter is, at best, advice—and maybe wrong or even bad advice.
So bear that in mind as I proceed.
It has been an interesting and distressing few months.
First all the political rancor and media mayhem
of the investigations of the President and then impeachment .
Then the coronavirus came, and shutdown everything for 3 months,
and it continues still.
Then the George Floyd murder and subsequent protests.
And then the riots and violence spread by Marxist and Anarchist groups.
Something evil is happening in our country.
Yes, there is some racism, and that is evil,
but I firmly believe it is lessening every year,
that grace and goodness are wearing it away, slowly, perhaps, but surely.
I mean, 30 years ago, would we have elected a black president?
Yes, there is unjust prejudice,
but it is a condition common to people of all the races,
and it is also lessening.
These positive trends must continue: as I preached about 2 weeks ago,
racism and unjust prejudice are terrible sins,
and must be condemned and rejected.
And of course, the coronavirus is real and deadly.
But it too is lessening in its threat,
And we are coming to understand that it was
not as horrible as many models forecasted,
and the severe cases and mortality skew heavily to elderly
and folks with underlying health problems
(this, by the way includes people like me).
And it will eventually be contained
—a vaccine and effective treatment will soon be developed.
My greatest fear, however, is something even more terrible—truly evil.
That is, the rise and even mainstreaming of Marxist groups in our country.
You remember the Marxists, don’t you?
The folks who believe that the rights of the individual
are secondary to the rights of the state?
The ideology that opposes true democracy, suppresses freedom,
imposes ideological and behavioral purity
and centralizes governance in a totalitarian regime of elite masters
that claims to govern “in the name of the people,”
but in reality enslaves the people.
The folks who believe violence, war and even murder are
legitimate and necessary means of winning and keeping political power?
Who oppose, attack and destroy anyone who stands in their way,
and so specifically believe that Christianity, and especially Catholicism,
must be annihilated.
When you total up the deaths caused by Marxists
in the Soviet Union, Eastern Europe, China, Cuba, North Korea,
Vietnam and Cambodia
the total number of victims is close to 100 million.
Even today, in Marxist China we see a million ethnic-minority Muslims
imprisoned in so-called re-education camps
—what Americans used to call concentration camps.
And do you remember the Tiananmen Square Massacre in 1989,
when thousands of peaceful pro-democracy protestors were killed,
and thousands more wounded by Government troops
armed with assault rifles and tanks.
And just look at what they’ve been doing in Hong Kong.
And yet today American Marxism, amazingly,
is on the rise and even being mainstreamed.
And so, it seems to me,
it stands as an existential threat to the very existence of the freedoms
we have always cherished as Americans, and even fought and died for.
One of the ways that Marxism rises to power,
is by preying on those who feel oppressed,
and setting up class struggle as the supposed problem to be conquered
—setting class against class,
for example, poor against rich, or race against race.
It also classically demonizes its opponents
—your political opponents are not only wrong, they are evil.
So they cannot be partners in peaceful dialogue,
but must be shouted down, silenced, and cancelled out,
by whatever means necessary.
Today we clearly see this happening in our country.
Now, usually Marxism is considered part of the political “left”—the far, far left.
But we also find on “the left” folks who simply identify as “liberal” or “progressive.”
So to be clear, most political liberals are not Marxists:
most are God-fearing, patriotic, neighborly Americans.
Some of you may consider yourselves in that group, politically liberal
—but you’re not Marxists.
But over the last few decades, and especially in the last few years,
we have seen liberal political and academic elements of our society
being gradually taken over, or manipulated by,
a smaller, ultra-radical, Marxist minority.
And we see the mainstream media going along, and even advocating for it.
Consider the “defund police” initiative.
Or the tearing down of statues to historical figures
—even Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses Grant,
and the called to tear down statues and paintings of
“white Jesus and His European Mother.”
Or the “autonomous zone” in Seattle.
Or the so-called “cancel culture.”
Or labeling anyone who opposes them
as “bigots,” “haters,” “white supremacists” or “fascists.”
And consider the radicalization of the Civil Rights movement
—a noble and just cause—
now being manipulated by Marxist-based groups like “Black Lives Matter.”
In 2015 BLM co-founder, Patrisse Khan-Cullors,
stated about herself and co-founder, Alicia Garza,
“We actually do have an ideological frame.
Myself and Alicia in particular, we’re trained organizers.
We are trained Marxists.”
Of course Black lives matter,
but see how the Marxist use innocent sounding catch-phrases
to co-op just causes into their radical ideology.
Or consider the violence against police and other nonsupporters,
especially by the Marxist group Antifa
—which is not really an anti-fascist group as it claims,
unless you follow their logic that
all conservatives or tradition-minded liberals are fascists.
And then throw on top of that the unprecedented government power grab
over the last few months.
I understand, there was an emergency.
I even wrote that we should obey the directives.
But if you recall, initially we were told it would last “a couple of weeks,”
until we “flattened the curve” so that our hospitals wouldn’t be inundated.
But then after the shutdown, the talk suddenly switched to government officials
saying we’re not going back to normal until we have a vaccine.
When did we agree to that?
How in a democratic-republican like American can the government
exercise such near dictatorial powers?
And if it’s so easy to declare and then prolong emergency powers,
without the consent of the citizenry,
where do those powers end,
and who knows what the next “emergency” might be?
As we approach the 4th of July, I am worried.
We cannot so easily give up our freedoms,
especially of assembly and speech, much less freedom of religion.
And we cannot give up our nation’s values or our Catholic values.
And we cannot let the Marxist minority intimidate us or manipulate our Republic.
Now, maybe I’m wrong.
Maybe I’m exaggerating the threat of Marxism.
Maybe I misunderstand what BLM and Antifa are all about,
or overstate their influence over protestors today.
And maybe I’m overreacting to the government’s response to the coronavirus.
And I can’t emphasize enough:
racism is a terrible sin, folks have a right to protest,
and we should all be careful and follow appropriate precautions
with the coronavirus,
and whatever we do, we must do it with love for our neighbor and our enemy.
But I do understand the Church’s teaching constantly condemning Marxism.
And I do know that Marxism is evil, trying to destroy our nation and the Church.
And that that freedom of speech, assembly, religion and even thought
are clearly in danger today.
10 years ago I was sent here as you pastor.
When I came, I was determined to love you like a father loves his children.
And I do.
Today, I have spoken to you as a father,
but as a father sent with a prophet mission.
And I have tried to speak to you prophetically in 2 ways
first, proclaiming the truth that Jesus and His Church has taught,
and second trying to apply that truth to the frightening events of the day.
If I have failed, if I have misunderstood what Christ has asked me to say to you,
I beg His forgiveness,
and hope that you will also please forgive your well-intentioned father.
But if I have truly spoken rightly, as God intends, remember:
“Whoever receives a prophet because he is a prophet
will receive a prophet’s reward.”