Saturday, March 28, 2009

5th weekend of Lent

Here is my homily for the 5th week of Lent. If you want to read a good article about Benedict's comments just go to this link.


If you have been reading the newspapers or watching the news lately, you will have to agree with me that Pope Benedict has been having a pretty ruff time lately. It seems that every time this poor man opens his mouth it is to create uproar and controversy in the world media. Take for example the comments he made a couple of weeks ago on his way to Africa. Let me paraphrase what he said: “AIDS cannot be overcome by just the distribution of a contraceptives method; in fact the availability of this method increases the problem.” Now my intention today is not to discuss the truth behind the Pope’s words. My intention is to point out a simple fact about these words. None of this is new. Benedict was just repeating the words of John Paul II, which based his teachings of human reproduction and AIDS in Africa on Pope’s Paul VI encyclical “humane vitae”! But this was not new stuff either!! In fact, the first person who ever spoke about human dignity and contraception in our Church was Clement of Alexandria in the year 191. Nothing Pope Benedict said was new…. But what happened after he made these comments? Well… The world media went on attack mode! Benedict was called ignorant, out of touch with the real world and “fallible”, and his comments where called “A danger to public health policy”. There was even a German newspaper clamoring for Benedict’s resignation as Pope, and another calling for the Pope to be “impeached” (Whatever that means) And you know what was the Vatican’s reaction to this uproar? Just nine words…“ The Pope was maintaining the position of his predecessors”.

Now if you are like me that always try to avoid conflict (At least that’s what my wife says). You might think: wouldn’t it be better if Benedict just didn’t say anything? After all, the teachings of the Church are well known. Why stir controversy? Why give the professed enemies of The Church ammunition? Why not just quietly retire into the Vatican gardens and spend the rest of his life reading books, feeding the birds and visiting the museums? Well… I think that in today’s Gospel Jesus gives a very clear answer to that question, let me re-read it for you: “unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit” Unless his disciples are willing to die, they will not produce any fruit, and notice that I say HIS DISCIPLES. Because the call to be witnesses to the truth is for all of us not just the Pope. If we want to be good servants of the Lord we should follow Jesus commands. He is very clear when he says “Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there also will my servant be.” And if that place, my brothers and sisters, is to be nailed to The Cross of public opinion… So be it.
Neither popes or clergy or anyone that has been baptized is called to be an innocent bystander, we are all called to get
involved, and be like Jesus witnesses of the truth regardless of the consequences. The history of our Church has been written with the blood of the Martyrs; men, woman and children that were willing to give their lives for what they knew was the truth. Of course in this day and age the majority of Christians do not have to risk their lives for the Gospel, but this is the same reason why the majority of Christians have no excuse for not been witnesses to the truth of the Gospel.
My brothers and sisters the words that we constantly hear the Church proclaim, words like “Human life in all of its forms from the one day old stem cell, to the terminally ill, to the elderly… all forms of Human life are sacred and should be protected from the abuses of the powerful” or the words of Pope Paul VI “Contraception will never be the a solution to any problem”, these words are not just slogans… They are part of the truth handed over to us by the Holy Spirit, through the teachings of the Apostles and the magisterium of the Church.
Pope Benedict does not shy away from controversy, does not walk quietly into the night because he knows well the words of Jesus from today’s Gospel… “What should I say?” whenever someone asks me a controversial question”Father save me from this hour? But that is the purpose that I came to this hour!”
Jesus told Peter to feed and take care of his flock. That is the purpose of Benedict's Papacy… But what about OUR purpose… why are we here in this time and place? …The answer is simple to be witnesses of the truth…our purpose has not changed in 2000 years.
My brothers and sisters, we should all ask God, every day, to give us the strength he gives Benedict, the strength he gave the Martyrs, the strength that can only come from the Holy Spirit so that when it is our turn to stand up for the Gospel, when it is our turn to defend our Catholic faith… when it is our turn to be witnesses to the truth… we will not shy away but proclaim to the world that as followers of Jesus we are willing and ready to make a stand, regardless of how mush it will cost us, for the Glory of God The Father, Amen.