TEXT: 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time, February 3, 2019

February 4, 2019 Father De Celles Homily

4th Sunday in Ordinary Time

February 3, 2019

Homily by Fr. John De Celles

St. Raymond of Peñafort Catholic Church

Springfield, VA


“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,

before you were born I dedicated you,

a prophet to the nations I appointed you.”


These words of God flowing from the pen of the prophet Jeremiah,

give a strong and unambiguous testimony of our faith

in God’s love and His creation of each and every human life.

“Before I formed you…I knew you…”

And to the personal identity of every human life

from the beginning in a mother’s womb:

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,

before you were born I dedicated you…

Not a blob of flesh, not a tumor…

Not an ambiguous IT, but a personal individual YOU.


And so as believing Christians, Catholics, we hold as a matter of faith,

that a baby in the womb is a human being, an individual person,

right from the moment HE or SHE exists in the womb.

And because of that, when God tells us, “you shall not kill”

and applies it to every single innocent human life,

all of us embrace that and understand it to apply

to the most innocent human life: you shall not commit abortion.



Now, right about now, some of you are already tuning me out.

“There he goes again, talking about abortion.”

Or, maybe, “yeah, yeah father, I’m pro-life too,

but why are you preaching about it AGAIN?”

You know what?

I’m tired of preaching about abortion:

I wish it could just go away I could preach about

how love is patient, love is kind.

But it won’t go away.

And this week it took a terrible turn for the worse, and right here in Springfield.

So we can’t afford to be tired of talking about abortion.

Not today.



You see, our belief in isn’t just a religious belief.

Certainly our faith clarifies, informs and helps us to understand

the significance of this belief.

But really, our understanding is rooted in science.

And that understanding through science

has becoming clearer and clearer in the last few years.

For decades abortion defenders use to say,

“Oh, that’s not a baby, it’s just a meaningless, parasitical blob of flesh.”

But science always told a different story.

And now it tells it even more clearly.

For example, scientists can take the DNA from a zygote

—the tiny one celled creature that after 2 weeks is called an embryo,

and after 11 weeks is called a fetus,

and after 20 years is called a man or woman.

Scientists can take the DNA from a zygote

and they find not the DNA of the mother, not the DNA of the father,

but the DNA of a brand new individual personal human being.

The identical DNA they will find in that same person if they test it

20 years or 90 years later.


Or, for example, at about 3 weeks after that one celled zygote is formed,

doctors can take an ultrasound of a mother’s womb

and see a live picture of an embryo

with a head and arms and legs and fingers and toes.

And at about 5-6 weeks they can see the little heart pumping,

although science also tells us it actually started pumping

about 3 weeks earlier.


Science shows us that that thing in the woman’s tummy

is not a mere “blastocyst”, but a real-life baby.


Now over the years, this has usually been the most important fact

to make to most people who called themselves “pro-choice.”

And if you talked to them, calmly, reasonably, and respectfully,

once you showed this to them,

you could usually move them to be at least a little more “pro-life.”


In fact, that has actually happened on a societal scale.

Because while different polls go back and forth about the country being

51% percent pro-choice or 51% percent pro-life,

if you dig a little deeper into those polls, they tell a different story.


For example, a recent Marist poll showed that over 50% of Americans

self-identify as “pro-choice.”

But, that same poll found the following:

  • 61% of Americans want abortion prohibited after the first 3 months of pregnancy
  • 65% want the Supreme Court to substantially overturn their decision in Roe v. Wade, either outlawing abortion altogether, or turning it back to the states to decide
  • 75% want substantial limitations on abortion


So pro-life is actually winning little by little, and in a landslide.

Except with certain extremists who insist on abortion on demand,

without any restrictions or regulations or protections whatsoever.


Extremists, like the former Senator from New York who ran for president 2 years ago,

who was a champion for partial birth abortion

—aborting the baby as it is being born.

Or Extremists, like those in the New York legislatures

and the governor of New York,

who just passed a law that made abortion legal up until

40 weeks of pregnancy—full term.


But these extremists aren’t just aren’t just up in New York.

Sadly, they are right in in Virginia,

as this week our Governor defended his support for late term abortion:

“If a mother is in labor,” he said,

“The infant would be delivered…

“The infant would be resuscitated

if that’s what the mother and the family desired…..”


Think of this: after the baby is born alive,

it would still be up to the mother whether to let it live.

That’s not just late term abortion…

Our governor was supporting infanticide.


And sadly, extremism is right here in Springfield.

Last week our delegate, Kathy Tran, introduced a bill

essentially calling for abortion on demand

up until the full 40-week term of gestation.

So when asked the question,

“So where it’s obvious that a woman is about to give birth,

…would that still be a point at which she could still request an abortion

She’s dilating?…

Tran responded: “My bill would allow that, yes.”



So it doesn’t matter that God and His Church tells us

it’s a human being that we shall not kill.

And it doesn’t matter that DNA, and ultrasound and medical science tells us

this is a living human baby, just as human as you or me.

And it doesn’t matter that the vast majority of Americans and Virginias

agree with all that.

All that matters is that these barbarians think

that it’s okay to kill any baby whenever you want,

up to the point of natural birth,

and you can let it die of neglect even after being born.

Thanks be to God they didn’t have the votes to pass their gruesome agenda.




I’m tired of talking about abortion, and your tired of hearing about it.

But that doesn’t really matter: what matters is the lives of BABIES!

1 minute before they’re born, and 1 minute after they’re born.

And 3 months, and 6 months and 9 months before they’re born,

or 3, 6 and 9 months after they’re born.



So have courage and zeal.

Don’t let these barbarians drive us into silence,

whether out of fear or out of simple weariness.

Rather, take these new threats against the unborn as a rallying call,

and as we read in today’s first reading:

“gird your loins; stand up and tell them all that I command you…

for it is [God]…who have made you …a pillar of iron, a wall of brass,

against the whole land…”


Now sometimes when I or you get all riled up like this,

some people mistake it for hatred.

Let me be clear: hatred has no place in the pro-life movement.

We must stand up and defend babies, but not with hatred against our enemies,

but with the love of Christ.


Because as St. Paul tells us today,

“if I have all faith so as to move mountains,

but do not have love, I am nothing.”

I love babies.

And I love their mothers.

But we must also love people who don’t care one whit for them at all.

So even as we stand up in righteous anger against extremist,

we remember that Christ tells us, “love your enemies.”

And so we fight them, all the while remembering that,

“Love is patient, love is kind… it is not rude….it is not quick-tempered,

And when we get discouraged or weary, remember, love,

“… bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never fails.”



Let us beg our Lord Jesus Christ to shower his love and grace

on our great Nation and our beloved Commonwealth of Virginia,

and on Springfield itself.

May he make us strong in his love, to stand up for the right to life,

And may we leave here today, sent by God, strong in his love,

to proclaim the truth about the dignity of unborn babies to all who will hear.

Remembering the word of God given to the prophet Jeremiah:

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,

before you were born I dedicated you,

a prophet to the nations I appointed you.”