This homily was preached several weeks ago on May 13th, Mother's Day Sunday and the Sixth Sunday of Easter. It was also four days after President Barak Obama gave his "evolutionary" decision to support Same Sex Marriage. This homily was originally going to have to be short, as I had a tight schedule to fly away and catch up with some students at a summit. Thankfully, United Airlines cancelled and then rescheduled my flight so that I could give a full homily to both my parishes. This is it.
On this Mother’s Day weekend, I usually like to speak about the power and beauty of motherhood, especially Christian motherhood. Instead, today I’d like to take some inspiration from good mothers. Good mothers not only give us life, but they teach us HOW to live. Sometimes, moms will use candy, sometimes a wooden spoon across the knuckles. Hopefully, today, I’ll bring you the Church’s teachings like a mother with candy, but perhaps a wooden spoon.
This topic is difficult one but is one brought up by our President this past Wednesday, May 7, when he announced his support for so called: “gay marriage.” This will be an important topic for our life in the future, not only as Catholics but also as Americans. I’d like address three things. Our President’s referencing of Scripture, Church teaching on marriage, and Church teaching on homosexuality.
The President's Reference of Scripture
In President Obama’s address to ABC’s Good Morning America, he cites the “Golden Rule” from St. Matthew’s Gospel as his reason. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” In his context, President Obama interprets this passage as permitting whatever one wants to do. “Allow others to do whatever they want as you wish no one would stop you from doing things.” Unfortunately he is using this passage incorrectly. We interpret scripture with other scripture. You’ve heard me say this before. In other scripture we know that this Golden Rule doesn’t allow us to do whatever we want. To reduce Scripture in this fashion is like reducing mom to a cook or a cleaner. Not fair to either Scripture or mom.
Church Teaching on Marriage
Secondly, what does the Church teach about marriage. The Church teaches that marriage is something natural to our human experience. It is not dependent upon Sacred Scripture but available to all intellects by nature. We see this in how bride and groom approach the altar together. They take something that occurs in nature and bring it into the Church.
Also, marriages are of public interest, we attend them because we need them and receive benefit from them. On May 11th two of our Newman students had a BEAUTIFUL wedding and we were there at that public event because it is of public concern. President Obama and other proponents of gay marriage would have us believe that it is a private affair between two consenting adults but we know and we ACT like it is more. Because it is not a private affair but a public action, there must be public consideration on what marriage is and what to do about it. Marriage is a natural occurrence that gives structure and security, especially to women and children, not just a name for "private actions."
In his effort to redefine marriage, President Obama joins past presidents who sought to redefine reality to their own whims. Among those efforts, President Bush redefined torture while President Clinton redefined the word “is.”
Church Teaching on Homosexuality
Finally, what does the Church say about homosexuality? Whenever we want to know Church teaching, go to the Catechism. If you don’t own one you can find it online: Catechism of the Catholic Church in google. Whenever people say: “Catholics are horrible and teach this…” Ask them “Where is that in the Catechism?”
There are three paragraphs about homosexuality in the Catechism. 2357, 2358, and 2359. We look at a couple teachings form there. 2357 says They [homosexual relations] are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity [meaning physiological and psychological]. Under no circumstances can they be approved.” Notice how the Church teaches from natural law, not revealed scripture or dogma. We believe the truth about human sexuality can be known by all souls of good will. This teaching is also based upon the nuptial meaning of the body and the natural connection between sex and babies. In this way, we Catholics are “green,” practicing an ecology of the human person.
The next paragraph, 2358, is also worth our attention. It focuses on how we Catholics—both corporately and individually should aid those with same sex attractions. The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God's will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.
Here we consider that those who have these attractions are in a trial, which should be met with compassion, respect, and sensitivity. What President Obama proposes might be construed as compassion but in disrespecting the nature of marriage, it is a false compassion, doing no good for anyone. We always tamper with nature to our own detriment. We must give them aid and help.
Some will ask, “Isn’t this unfair? Isn’t it unfair that they have these desires and we tell them they cannot act on them?” It is difficult but it is only unfair if they suffer on their own. Here the Catechism recommends the remedy of the Cross. In the Cross we remember that God has entered into our sufferings and in suffering he is accessible to all who seek him. Our mission as Catholics in our culture then is to know Jesus Christ in our own sufferings and trials so that we can console others with the same consolation given to us. This is true compassion.
In this regard the burden does not fall alone on those who struggle with same sex attractions but on all Christians to know Jesus Christ crucified. In that spirit, I invite anyone who struggles with these attractions to come into the light of the Church. Seek my help in confession or in spiritual direction. If you know of a friend who struggles, seek my help as well. I am available to those who suffer and I pray in solidarity for those who suffer.
Christ is risen.