30th Sunday - homily
Jesus says in today’s Gospel that the greatest commandments are to love God and to love neighbor. I don’t think anybody here is going to disagree with Jesus about that. It’s one thing for us to agree with our Lord that the two most important commandments are to love God and neighbor, and to believe it; it’s another thing to live it. We have a great opportunity on Election Day, November 4th, to live it. May the Eucharist give us the strength and courage to live it.
First, love of God. Fr. Mike said in his homily last week that “obviously we can’t fully separate Church and state”. In the second reading, St. Paul writes that “in every place” our faith in God goes forth. Even a voting booth. How does our faith in God go forth in a voting booth, like on November 4th? In at least two ways. First, we hear what issues are most important to God and we vote accordingly. Second, we make an act of faith, trusting that if we put God first, He will provide.
Has God revealed to us what issues are most important to Him and what we are to choose? Yes. In general terms, He reveals to us in the Book of Deuteronomy, chapter 30, that when we have a choice between death and life, we are to “choose life” (v.19). Choose life! We can apply this to any election: when we have the choice between the culture of death and the culture of life, we choose life.
God has also revealed to us what issues are most important to Him specifically in this election. He continues to teach us through the Church, as you know. Jesus gave the Apostles the power to teach in his name, to continue His teachings. He gave them the power to bind and loose, the keys of the kingdom, and in Luke 10, he says to them, “whenever they hear you, they hear me”. The Apostles passed down this authority to their successors, the bishops. We believe that God continues to speak to us through the bishops.
The bishops have informed us about this election and what issues are most important. They tell us that “human life is sacred”. It is from God and most important to God. The bishops identify eight issues that are serious violations against human life: abortion, euthanasia, human cloning, embryonic research, genocide, racism, torture, and acts of war or terror against innocent people. These are “intrinsic evils”; they are always wrong and can never be justified.
The bishops say that we are not one-issue voters; but, they say that a candidate’s position on a single issue involving one of the intrinsic evils – legal abortion, for example - may legitimately lead a voter to disqualify a candidate from support. Now, we do need to keep in mind the proportion of evil that is involved with abortion: it outweighs the evil of all the other intrinsic evils combined! Over 1 million babies are aborted every year in the United States, and almost 50 million American babies have died through abortion since 1973.
The bishops also warn us about a serious legislative threat to human life: the Freedom of Choice Act. If passed into law, this act would increase the number of abortion in our country. It would remove all restrictions to abortion. Among other things, it would: remove restrictions on protecting women from unsafe abortion clinics, remove parental notification, require states to perform partial-birth abortions – an unspeakably heinous procedure -, force taxpayers to fund abortions, and force Catholic hospitals and charities to perform and support abortions which may bring the end of Catholic hospitals and Catholic charities. We need to know where the candidates stand on the issues, but especially with regard to the Freedom of Choice Act.
We choose life and we defend the right to life; we know that without the right to life, there are no other rights…there’s no life…there’s nothing.
Second, love of neighbor. We are to be compassionate on November 4th as God is compassionate, the first reading tells us. A vote for life is compassionate – to the unborn baby and to the mother. Abortion hurts women. The Church has been opposed to abortion from the beginning; it knows that abortion hurts women. Also, you might be surprised to know that of the two sides of this issue, the one that provides more care and compassion to the woman after she has made her choice…is the pro-life side, led by the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church offers more post-abortive healing to women than any other institution in the world. Love of neighbor through compassion.
Finally, it is a great challenge for us to vote primarily for love of God and love of neighbor in this election, especially given the economy. The temptation is to vote primarily for love of money. But, as Christians, we approach this differently. We approach it with faith, putting God’s issues first and trusting that He will provide for us. It is an act of faith. It’s like we go into the voting booth, saying, “Lord, I’m not exactly sure why I am choosing life, but I do it because you have said to choose life. I trust in you that you will provide”. My brothers and sisters, I promise you that if we choose life, we will be rewarded. God will provide. If we vote primarily for love of God and love of neighbor, we will be rewarded. God will provide.