The Night is Advanced

(Homily for First Sunday of Advent, Year A)

There are usually two ways of looking at things – a person can be optimistic or pessimistic. When things are going bad, the optimist will say, “Don’t worry, it is always darkest before daybreak.” But the pessimist counters, “Mark my word, things are always darkest before they go completely black.”

Well, I don’t know if I am an optimist or a pessimist, but I do see a darkness coming over our society. There is an area of darkness which has overtaken us in stealthy manner. I am speaking about the use of human embryos for research. Private laboratories have been doing it for a number of years, but many are pushing for more government involvement. Celebrities, research scientists and politicians have joined hands to promote government funding. Apparently it has broad public support. Earlier this month our neighbors to the south voted six billion dollars for embryonic stem cell research. In addition to their desire to stimulate California's economy, they reasoned that six billion dollars is a small price to pay for a possible cure for cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s and diabetes. But did they consider the price of sacrificing tiny human lives?

The darkness of human sacrifice not only hangs over the research centers, it pervades our society. A friend gave me a copy of the University of Washington Daily. It has an ad seeking “egg donors.” With a picture of a smiling man holding lovely child, the ad invites co-eds to give the “precious gift of life.” In bold letters it offers $3,000 – 4,000 compensation for their eggs. Obviously, the offer would be attractive to a college student strapped for money – especially, when framed in such noble terms. But will the young woman later ask herself what happened to her offspring? One might wind up in a caring family and yet will inevitably wonder who were his mother and his father.* Another might be pulled apart for medical research. Yet another might be simply discarded.

St. Paul tells us “the night is advanced.” People engage in sinful activity during the night because they have less chance of being caught. Thieves and prostitutes prefer the cover of darkness. “Respectable” people also seek a cover for their activities. St. Paul mentions “rivalry and jealousy.” A sweet, smiling exterior can provide a cover for great malice. Or like the U of W ad, the picture of a happy parent and child – combined with “science” – can hide the horrendous exploitation of fellow humans. The embryo may be very tiny, but it is still human - fully capable of the same existence you or I have. The evil of slavery and the evil of Nazism was to treat an entire class as non-human or sub-human. Size is as much an accident as skin color or having a Jewish grandmother. The subjects of embryonic research are very small, but they possess the same human worth.

The night is advanced. Then St. Paul adds, “The day is at hand.” He does not mean this in the optimistic sense that a wonderful new day is dawning. What is dawning is the Day of Judgment. The works which we try to cover up will be brought to light. Jesus gives the same warning. Stay awake. Be prepared. “At an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.”


*The Catechism refers to the child's right to be born of a father and mother known to him (#2376) and then makes this sensible observation:

A child is not something owed to one, but is a gift. The "supreme gift of marriage" is a human person. A child may not be considered a piece of property, an idea to which an alleged "right to a child" would lead. In this area, only the child possesses genuine rights: the right "to be the fruit of the specific act of the conjugal love of his parents," and "the right to be respected as a person from the moment of his conception." (#2378)

The above paragraph has become the single most radical - and to many people, the most upsetting - statement of the entire Catechism. Something every young person should memorize: A child in not a right; a child is a gift.

Spanish Version

From Archives (First Sunday of Advent, Year A):

2013: One Taken, One Left
2010: Please Hold the Applause
2007: Not in Promiscuity and Lust
2004: The Night is Advanced
2001: The Noise Stopped
1998: Late, But Not Too Late

Seapadre Homilies: Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C

Sunday Homilies

Audio Files of Homilies

Podcasts of homilies (website of my niece, Sara)

Evidence for God's Existence from Modern Physics (MP3 Audio File)

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Parish Picture Album

(November 2010)

Bulletin (Returning Soldiers, Connor Peterson, Alfred Kinsey)


Perhaps the Most Evil Thing NRO Has Ever Published

Surgical Sex (by Psychiatry Professor Paul McHugh)

Hey, they're "just movies", folks!

Bishop Cesare Mazzolari: "The tragedy of Darfur is unspeakable"

Looking Back, Looking Forward (Deal Hudson)

Bishop Skylstad's Priorities

Advice for Bloggers (from Dante Alighieri)

Bulletin (St. Mary's Parish)

Parish Picture Album

(Pilgrimage to Molokai)

MBC - Mary Bloom Center, Puno, Peru

KRA's & SMART Goals (updated November 2013)