1 Kgs 19:16-21; Ps 16:1-11; Gal 5:1, 13-18; Lk 9:51-62
June 26, 2022
DEATH to the Culture of Death!! It’s hard not to start with the recent news of the reversal of Roe vs Wade and the beginning of the end to legalized abortion. As the gospel of Luke tells us today….
“Let the dead bury their dead. But you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”
The ‘dead’ refers here to those who refuse to live in the Spirit. Since Pentecost, humans can now live at a more transcendent level of consciousness and experience. Life in the Spirit. Indeed, participating in the very life and love of the Blessed Trinity……
Therefore, (so says today’s Psalm 16:5-11) my heart is glad and my soul rejoices,
my body, too, abides in confidence
because you will not abandon my soul to the netherworld,
nor will you suffer your faithful one to undergo corruption.
You will show me the path to life,
fullness of joys in your presence,
the delights at your right hand forever.
This is true freedom!! How could there be any other Choice?!!
Gal. 5:1, 13-18
For freedom Christ set us free;
so stand firm and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery.
For you were called for freedom, brothers and sisters.
But do not use this freedom
as an opportunity for the flesh;
rather, serve one another through love……..
if you go on biting and devouring one another,
beware that you are not consumed by one another.
“I say, then: live by the Spirit and you will certainly not gratify the desire of the flesh. For the flesh has desires against the Spirit,
and the Spirit against the flesh; these are opposed to each other,
so that you may not do what you want. But if you are guided by the Spirit, you are not under the law.”
This doesn’t exactly mean that the spirit and flesh are mutually exclusive. Both are good and beautiful because God made them. They are actually designed to work together. However, the point here is that the Spirit has PRIMACY, that is, authority, over the flesh. If the Spirit is weak, then the flesh can easily dominate one’s whole life, i.e., Slavery.
If we pay close attention to our history just since WWII, we can see the professional and surgically effective onslaught of pop culture, consumer culture, the sexual revolution, technology and media ‘explosion’, general busyness and reduced participation in organized religion. Without a commensurate emphasis on developing spiritual depth as individuals and as a Church and as an American culture, we somehow found ourselves enormously confused by 1973 (Roe vs. Wade). With the world armed with thousands of nuclear warheads ready for immediate launch by the early 1950’s, we could hardly say we were a ‘Culture of Life’ before legalized abortion. Our minds and souls were severely dimmed and weakened.
We are responsible for creating a FULL Culture of Life… the fundamentals of that mission are carefully explained in the Catechism of the Catholic Church particularly in the areas of chastity and prayer from the heart…..
Let me read to you just parts of a few of those paragraphs so we can see how closely they match today’s readings and psalm God’s Word and Mission are real. They don’t happen unless we are faithful to our YES and to our ‘Amen’ to the Body of Christ.
I realize this detail is a bit much for a homily, but these paragraphs are also included in our bulletin today. Besides, since most of you are coming to Mass while even on vacation(!), I might easily presume that you will likely take up the worthy task of being some of the teachers that the Church and world desperately need during this exciting time of transition.
2337 Chastity means the successful integration of sexuality within the person and thus the inner unity of man in his bodily and spiritual being. Sexuality, in which man’s belonging to the bodily and biological world is expressed, becomes personal and truly human when it is integrated into the relationship of one person to another, in the complete and lifelong mutual gift of a man and a woman. The virtue of chastity therefore involves the integrity of the person and the integrality of the gift.
2338 The chaste person maintains the integrity of the powers of life and love placed in him. This integrity ensures the unity of the person; it is opposed to any behavior that would impair it. It tolerates neither a double life nor duplicity in speech.125
2339 Chastity includes an apprenticeship in self-mastery which is a training in human freedom. The alternative is clear: either man governs his passions and finds peace, or he lets himself be dominated by them and becomes unhappy.126 “Man’s dignity therefore requires him to act out of conscious and free choice, as moved and drawn in a personal way from within, and not by blind impulses in himself or by mere external constraint. Man gains such dignity when, ridding himself of all slavery to the passions, he presses forward to his goal by freely choosing what is good and, by his diligence and skill, effectively secures for himself the means suited to this end.”127
2340 Whoever wants to remain faithful to his baptismal promises and resist temptations will want to adopt the means for doing so: self-knowledge, practice of an ascesis adapted to the situations that confront him, obedience to God’s commandments, exercise of the moral virtues, and fidelity to prayer. “Indeed it is through chastity that we are gathered together and led back to the unity from which we were fragmented into multiplicity.”128
2341 The virtue of chastity comes under the cardinal virtue of temperance, which seeks to permeate the passions and appetites of the senses with reason.
2342 Self-mastery is a long and exacting work. One can never consider it acquired once and for all. It presupposes renewed effort at all stages of life.129 The effort required can be more intense in certain periods, such as when the personality is being formed during childhood and adolescence.
2343 Chastity has laws of growth which progress through stages marked by imperfection and too often by sin. “Man . . . day by day builds himself up through his many free decisions; and so he knows, loves, and accomplishes moral good by stages of growth.”130
2344 Chastity represents an eminently personal task; it also involves a cultural effort, for there is “an interdependence between personal betterment and the improvement of society.”131 Chastity presupposes respect for the rights of the person, in particular the right to receive information and an education that respect the moral and spiritual dimensions of human life.
Genuine prayer from a Catholic perspective implies a certain level of self-mastery, community participation and community mission. These two paragraphs from the beginning of the Catechism section on prayer are particularly rich. Again they are included in today’s bulletin.
Prayer as covenant
2562 Where does prayer come from? Whether prayer is expressed in words or gestures, it is the whole man who prays. But in naming the source of prayer, Scripture speaks sometimes of the soul or the spirit, but most often of the heart (more than a thousand times). According to Scripture, it is the heart that prays. If our heart is far from God, the words of prayer are in vain.
2563 The heart is the dwelling-place where I am, where I live; according to the Semitic or Biblical expression, the heart is the place “to which I withdraw.” The heart is our hidden center, beyond the grasp of our reason and of others; only the Spirit of God can fathom the human heart and know it fully. The heart is the place of decision, deeper than our psychic drives. It is the place of truth, where we choose life or death. It is the place of encounter, because as image of God we live in relation: it is the place of covenant.
How to live in freedom? We have to give God the time and attention that we need to adjust to a different way of being in the world. Being a genuine culture of life requires more than good legislation. It requires a day-to-day, and even a minute-by-minute commitment to a higher level of living.
There is an abundance of affordable and accessible Catholic teaching materials to help us put some street level context on God’s vision for us.
As you’re hiking and biking around, especially when you’re gazing into the depths of one of these amazing canyons, let yourself breathe into a deeper part of your soul and feel some of that genuine FREEDOM for which God has created you.