31st Sunday in Ordinary Time
October 31, 2021
Homily by Fr. John De Celles
St. Raymond of Peñafort Catholic Church
In today’s Gospel Jesus reminds us of the two “Great Commandments”:
“The first is this:… The Lord our God is Lord alone!
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart…soul…mind
The second is this:
You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
But what does it mean to love?
Contrary to popular usage, it doesn’t mean infatuation, fixation, lust, or selfishness.
Love isn’t even, in its truest sense, a mere feeling.
Love, properly speaking, is actually
a choice followed by acts consistent with that choice.
Specifically, “love is willing and striving for the true good of the other.”
So, to love God is to will and to strive for His good.
And when God created the world and man, Genesis tells us that,
“God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.”
So in loving God, we can say that, from our perspective,
God’s “good” is that creation become all He created it to be.
And as man is the highpoint and lord of creation,
this means it is God’s good that man reach the full potential
of the goodness that God designed him for and planned for him.
In short, to love God means to serve Him and fulfill His plan for us
—to be the best we can be—according to His plan.
And to love our neighbor, and willing and striving for their good,
relates to this:
we must do everything we can to help them
to follow God’s plan and reach their highest potential for goodness.
Now, some of what is good for man, some of God’s plan for man,
is obvious or can be discovered by human reason.
We call this discoverable goodness the “natural law,”
or as some say, “the law of nature.”
For example, we should all be able to figure out
that it’s NOT good for us to kill each other.
But a lot of the times discovering the natural law through reason isn’t so easy.
Between being busy with the necessities of daily life,
and the confusion caused by our sinful impulses,
we can get confused.
And sometimes people we trust lead us astray.
So God, in His great mercy and love for us reminds us about the good.
If you’ve been paying attention to my homilies over the years you know that
when Jesus gives us the two great commandments in today’s Gospel,
He’s actually quoting Moses from the Old Testament
—the text we read in today’s first reading.
And that Old Testament text is actually the summary of
the text that immediately precedes:
which is the text of the 10 Commandments.
So that the two great commandments of love are a summary of the whole 10:
and the 10 Commandments teach us some specifics of how to love.
Now all 10 of the Commandments describe how to love God.
But if you look closely you can break them down into two lists, or two parts.
The first part has the first 3 commandments
that specifically talk about loving God: if you love God you will
keep His day holy, not worship other gods, or take His name in vain.
And the second part has 7 commandments
that are specifics of loving your neighbor:
if you love your neighbor don’t kill them, steal from them, etc.
Again, most of what’s in the commandments is knowable by human reason.
But the commandments are there to reinforce and clarify
the law already in our hearts: the natural law.
Now, the founding fathers of our great nation were very learned men,
and they actively studied and discussed what was good for man.
And between the 10 commandments and human reason,
they developed great insight into the natural law.
And they incorporated those into our country’s very foundation.
So in the Declaration of Independence,
they began by citing the “the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God”
And then went on to give us the basic American creed:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal,
that they are endowed by their Creator
with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are
Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
Then 12 years later they gave us a Constitution
that further specified these rights and liberties,
following principles of Natural Law, informed by the 10 Commandments.
We all know it was not perfect, it has important and tragic flaws.
But our Constitution is all the more amazing—and good—in that
in itself it gave both the principles and the remedies to perfect those flaws.
This Tuesday is election day in Virginia.
As faithful Christians, patriotic Americans, and reasonable human beings,
we must vote in a way consistent with these
American principles and Christian commandments.
Or to put it another way, we must vote in a way
that is loving of our Creator, and of our neighbors,
and thereby not just will but also strive, by our vote, for their true good.
It used to be, when I was young,
that both parties were largely imbued
with America’s founding principles and the 10 Commandments,
and so strove, according to their best judgment,
for the good of their fellow Americans.
Like the founders, neither party and no individual politician was perfect
—some were grossly flawed.
But still, they were bound, at least publicly by these principles and commandments.
Sadly, tragically, things have changed.
Today one of the major political parties is dominated by folks
who embrace an ideology that is radically opposed to
the American principles and the 10 Commandments.
I am, of course, speaking of the Democrat Party.
I say, dominated, because it’s important to recognize that there are exceptions.
Even so, the party leadership is dominated by this evil ideology.
And we see this in particular way in the Democrat candidates
in Virginia’s election on Tuesday.
the second part of the 10 commandments, about loving your neighbor,
begins with the 4th Commandment: “Honor your mother and father.”
The Constitution echoes this, as the Supreme Court said in 2000 (Troxel v. Granville)
“The liberty interest ….of parents
in the care, custody, and control of their children…
is perhaps the oldest of the fundamental liberty interests….”
But in this year’s race in Virginia, the Democrat candidates
deny parental rights over “the care, custody, and control of their children.”
As candidate for Governor, Terry McAuliffe, said,
“…I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.”
They also deny parents’ rights to make medical decisions for their kids:
supporting policies that
mandate covid vaccines for children
and require schools and doctors to not tell parents
when their child seeks gender-change drug therapy;
and they support schools pushing Critical Race Theory,
teaching children their parents are either oppressors or oppressed
based solely on the color of their parent’s skin.
Another example: the next commandment, the 5th says: “you shall not kill.”
This is, of course, prominently reflected in the Declaration of Independence
when it proclaims the “right to life,”
as the first right before even “liberty and the pursuit of happiness”.
But all the democrats running in this week’s Virginia election
are all radically pro-abortion.
Thus, rejecting 5th Commandment and the most basic self-evident human right.
And still another example: the next and 6th Commandment, says,
“you shall not commit adultery.”
The Virginia Democrat candidates not only support same sex marriage
but promote school policies that encourage children toward
sexual experimentation and promiscuity, which are all “adultery.”
And one more: the 8th Commandment: “you shall not bear false witness,” or lie.
The Constitution also incorporates this
as it requires oath-taking—sworn true witness—
for officers of the government.
And yet the Democrat candidates embrace the absolute and self-evident lie
that a boy can be a girl if he just says he is,
and defends all sort of laws and polices that officially promote this lie,
especially in schools.
Not only does this break the 8th Commandment,
but it completely mocks the Great Commandment to love God
and the American principle that our Creator gave us a particular design.
How can we love God when we not reject His manifest design and plan
for the human body and sexuality.
And how can we love a child when we abuse them
with gender-bending drugs and counselling
that complete subverts the good God plans for them
and devastates their bodies, minds and whole lives.
Now, I love God and I love you—imperfectly surely, but I do.
And so I must also not strive for God’s good and yours:
I must do everything I can to bring your good about.
And so I must tell you the truth about what is good.
So, I must tell you, that in my informed best Catholic judgment, my conscience,
as your Spiritual Father,
in this week’s election you cannot morally vote
for the Democrat candidates for
governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general
or for any of the democrat candidates for delegate
in this or neighboring districts.
Specifically, I believe, it would be a mortal sin for you to vote for
Terry McAuliffe for governor of Virginia,
or Kathy Tran for Delegate for the 42nd district.
In my best judgment, they manifestly
do not strive for the good of God and their fellow Virginians,
they are not promoting the love of God and neighbor.
Now, to be clear: I am not endorsing their opponents.
And I am not claiming a right to mandate how you vote:
you are free, as Catholics and as Americans to make your own choices,
but choices made with a well-formed Catholic conscience.
I have simple shared with you what my conscience tells me,
to help guide your choices.
Now, some will say,
“Father, how dare you: you’ve crossed the line between Church and state!”
Nonsense: the Constitution protects the Church from the state,
not the state from the church.
And as I said earlier,
we can disagree on how to solve problems and evils in society.
And we can sometimes even disagree about what is a problem or evil.
But we cannot, as Catholics, or even as good Americans,
embrace and promote manifest and “self-evident” problems and evils.
As your Pastor, your shepherd, I see wolves out their preying my sheep and lambs.
And as your Father I cannot be silent,
especially as parental rights are being desecrated
and our children are being aborted, abused and corrupted
by the ideological policies embraced by these candidates.
God will not be mocked…
not in this parish, not in this church, and definitely not in this pulpit.
And, please God, not in Virginia, this Tuesday.
So, as we enter into the mystery of the great sacrificial prayer of Christ Crucified,
re-presented here in the Eucharist,
let us pray together that this Tuesday and every day,
all our parishioners, and all Virginians
shall will and strive for the true good of God and each other.
That we “shall love the Lord your God
with all [our] heart…soul…mind and …strength….”
and “love [our] neighbor as [ourselves].”