The Wealth of Nations

(Homily for Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C)

Today we will hear orators quote from the Declaration of Independence, especially its second sentence ("We hold these truths..."). It mentions three inalienable rights. Naturally, the first and most fundamental is the right to life. The founders called it inalienable because it cannot be taken away or transferred – it is from God.

For us as citizens and as Christians few things are more important than the defense of human life. Here in Holy Family Parish we have organized a new Respect Life Committee in response to a recent development: the opening of Planned Parenthood office only eight block away. While those who work at Planned Parenthood may have good intentions, the organization has some negative aspects:

· It is the largest abortion provider in the United States – and throughout the world.

· It vigorously promotes the contraceptive life-style. For example, White Center’s Planned Parenthood sent out coupons offering one year free contraception for certain categories of people.

· It uses deceptive advertising, for instance, by calling the “Morning After Pill” contraception when in fact it can take effect after conception, thus destroying a newly conceived embryo.

· Historically Planned Parenthood has tended to target minorities, opening clinics in neighborhoods like ours which have significant minority populations.*

· It provides abortion and birth control to minors without informing their parents, thus creating an additional division between parent and child.

· It has covered up cases of statutory rape.

The Respect Life Committee will respond in three ways: First, by prayer which is our most powerful resource. We will sponsor peaceful prayer vigils in front of the Planned Parenthood facility. Second, by education, especially to help our young people understand life as a God given gift. Third, by providing resources for those tempted by abortion or the contraceptive life-style.** For example, on July 25 I have invited a couple of medical doctors to give a presentation on Natural Family Planning. I encourage you to attend – and to help with our parish Respect Life Committee.

Respect for human life is fundamental to our duties as citizens and as Christians. Part of the greatestness our country is that, at the moment of its founding, it recognized this fundamental right.

The founding fathers drew inpsiration from the Bible. They wanted our country to be a “city on a hill,” a new Jerusalem. It is significant that this weekend we hear the Lord speak these words:

Lo, I will spread prosperity over Jerusalem like a river,
and the wealth of the nations like an overflowing torrent. (Is 66:12)

In many ways it seems like the prophecy has been fulfilled in our country. In spite of our many problems and obvious inequalities, the United States has created more wealth than any nation in human history – and has extended that prosperity to the greatest number of people. People with quite modest means now have within their reach comforts, food, entertainment and learning opportunities, etc. which, in the past, even nobility did not enjoy.***

And today vast numbers still look to our nation as the “golden door.” When I was in Peru, they did a survey of young people, asking them about what they would most like to do in the future. Many mentioned going to the university or starting a small business, but the biggest dream was “to go to the United States of America.”

We who are here of course need to be welcoming and generous - and to do what we can to extend that prosperity to other societies. At the same time, we must avoid the trap of seeing prosperity as an end in itself. Jesus tells his disciples to “carry no money bag, no sack, no sandals.” (Lk 10:4) Our focus has to be on God and the human person – their salvation – not on ones stock portfolio or pension fund.

This has vast implications. We are in an election year – and according to the polls, most people will make their decisions on the basis of how the economy is doing. Our bishops are telling us something different. Yes, the economy is important because of its affect on persons, especially in providing dignified jobs. But there are much deeper concerns: the defense of those most vulnerable, starting with the unborn child - surely the most defenseless members of our society - then the terminally ill and then groups with relatively little power, such as immigrants, the homeless, prisoners, etc.

St. Paul states that the only thing he wants to take pride in is the cross of Christ. (Gal 6:14) That must be our attitude. We are citizens of a great nation, but first we are citizens of heaven. If we give priority to God, we will not fail in our duty toward our country.


*For more on this history, please read War Against the Weak by Edwin Black. The book is particularly powerful because he did not write it with any ax to grind against Planned Parenthood. In fact he admits that he favors the organization as it now exists. Still, he honestly recounts its relationship with the American eugenics movement which had a significant influence on the racial theories and practices of Nazi Germany. Margaret Sanger laid out the Planned Parenthood philosophy in a document titled Pivot of Civilization It has such quotable quotes as, "we are paying for and even submitting to the dictates of an ever increasing, unceasingly spawning class of human beings who never should have been born at all." Many observers have noted that Planned Parenthood strives to eliminate poverty by eliminating the poor. See: Margaret Sanger in Her Own Words

**And of course to promote post-abortion healing.

***Not that we are happier than people in the past - or in other countries. Prosperity, although greatly desired, does not in itself produce happiness; often just the opposite - but that is the topic of a different homily.

Spanish Version

From Archives (14th Sunday, Year C):

2010: Healing the Family Tree
2007: Stepping Out
2004: The Wealth of Nations
2001: What We Need
1998: Political Involvement and Discipleship

Other Homilies

Seapadre Homilies: Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C

Bulletin (Two-Bit Collections, Wound in Our Society, Any Good Movies?)


Adult Stem-Cell Success Stories Hailed (Meanwhile, a Son of Reagan Assails Use of Embryos)

From George Weigel: The virtually universal American revulsion at photographs showing abuse of Iraqi prisoners by U.S. troops tells us something important about this country

A Liberal Case Against Gay Marriage

From Dave Armstrong: The Communion of Saints (in-depth, well worth reading)

A Soldier Answers Call to Become a Priest

Newspeak: "Enhanced Interrogation Techniques"

Scrutinizing the Inquisition (Volume Doesn't Spare Popes)

Religious Persecution Rife

Pictures from Tent City - St. Brendan's Bothell

Canadian Federal Elections News Buzz (for Americans who don't know the name of Canada's Prime Minister, here is a place to start)

Archdiocese of Vancouver offers Top Ten Questions for Voters

BBC News Ultrasound shows twelve week old "foetus" walking in womb, yawning and rubbing his eyes

Two movies with a hideous theme: New Movies Depict Statutory Rape in Positive Light

And two movies to consider seeing: Spiderman 2 and Two Brothers

Plus one more reason not to have cable TV: HBO's Celibacy Documentary

A question about sexual abuse of minors in public schools

Good Friday Service at Institute for Systems Biology

Bulletin (St. Mary's Parish)

My bulletin column

St. Mary of the Valley Album

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