On the anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing, television networks did something dramatic. At 9:02 a.m., the exact time the bomb went off, they observed a second of silence for each of the 168 victims. The silence lasted almost three minutes. It was solemn, dramatic and unprecedented for television.
This week we commemorated another kind of explosion which resulted in enormous casualties. Thirty-one years ago the United States Supreme Court handed down a decision called Roe v. Wade. With no legislative input, the justices removed legal protection from unborn children right up to the moment of birth. Since then some forty million unborn children have been put to death.* If we were to observe a second of silence for each one of them, it would last fifteen months.
Perhaps silence is the best response. Last year a young man from our parish joined a contemplative religious community. It was not that he wanted to run away from the problems of the world. Far from it. He is very much a fighter, but he recognizes that ultimately we are not so much in a political battle as a spiritual battle - and our greatest arm is prayer.**
Today we hear about Jesus beginning his public ministry. Before doing so, he spent forty days in the desert – and before that, thirty years in relative seclusion. Jesus did not come to announce some dazzling new message, but rather to remind us of what we had forgotten. He unrolled the scroll of Isaiah, a prophet who lived eight hundred years before him. The message was one that all men know intuitively - but we need reminding - that we have a duty toward those who are in a weaker position: the poor, the aliens, the oppressed. The Bible - both Old and New Testament - teaches that God is on the side of those who have less resources to defend themselves. And no one in our society is more defenseless than an unborn child.
When Ezra read from the “book of the law,” the people heard about their obligations toward the widow, the fatherless child and the immigrant. They wept – because they realized how far they had strayed from observing God’s law.
Tears are good. They can be a prelude to peace, even joy - if we take God's word to heart and make a serious attempt to change our lives. Ezra told the people, “Do not be saddened this day, for rejoicing in the LORD must be your strength!” (Neh 8:10) Jesus announced “glad tidings.” Those tidings are glad - for those who place themselves on the side of God’s weak ones.
*Abortion has become the most common invasive surgical procedure in the United States - about 1.2 million per year, compared to 350,000 heart bypass surgeries. Yet, as Fr. Frank Pavone points out, almost everyone has seen a heart operation on television, but abortion has not been televised. Click here to see what abortion really is. Perhaps this is why presidential candidate Howard Dean stated, "I did not perform abortions. I'm a medical doctor."
**I do not mean to suggest a separation between spiritual and political realms. Archbishop Burke has rightly challenged Catholic politicians who promote such schizophrenia. Few people today would defend German Christians who privatized their spirituality during the Holocaust. The piles of mutilated corpses condemn their silence. We likewise have seen the images of the abortion holocaust. As citizens we must do everything possible to prevent such destruction. And as Christians we must use the greatest force - prayer.
Those who judge Pius XII for his alleged silence should not ignore parallels with our current holocaust. Nor should we exempt Pius' contemporaries from scrutiny. To many people's surprise, the author of Hitler's Pope has written a follow up study called Hitler's Scientists. As you might imagine, critics have not received it as enthusiastically as the accusations against the pope. Still, the book does show how science and medicine can be subverted and utilized for evil purposes. In comparison to the general public, a higher percentage of scientists and physicians joined the Nazi party. Their presence gave legitimacy to Nazism - as it does today to abortion, in vitro fertilization, euthanasia, cloning, stem cell research, chemical birth control, etc.
From Archives (Homilies for Third Sunday, Year C):
Other Sunday Homilies
Seapadre Homilies: Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C
Audio Files of Homilies (Simple Catholicism Blog)
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Fr. Brad's Homilies
Fr. Jim's Homilies
Fr. Michael White's Homilies ("messages")
Bulletin (St. Mary's Parish)
Parish Picture Album
Parish Picture Album
(January 2013 - in Peru with Fr. Thomas Nathe)
My bulletin column (Haiti collection results, March for Life, Postcard campaign for Comprehensive Immigration Reform)
St. Mary of the Valley Album
Bulletin (Death of Betty Lutz, Highlights of Peru Visit, Upcoming Events)
Bulletin (Feasibility Study results, Catholic Schools, Fr. Derek Lappe - Pro-Life Prayer)
Amy Welborn Explains the Gullibility of Da Vinci Code Fans
Ron Belgau to speak at Georgetown ("The Love that Does not Count the Cost: A Biblical Reflection on Same-Sex Attraction and Christian Love")
Pro-life Homily (Fr. Jim Tucker)
Questions from a High School Senior (Answers by Mark Shea)
TOLERATING SEXUAL ABUSE IN THE PUBLIC SCHOOLS
Samwise Goes to Olympia (2004 March for Life)
Pictures from Peru
MBC - Mary Bloom Center, Puno, Peru