Fifth Sunday after Pentecsot, June 19, 2016. Mt 8:28-9:1; Rom 10:1-10

St. Paul, in today’s passage from his letter to the Romans, instructs us that you will be saved, “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead.”

Evangelical and fundamentalist groups will assert that good works are irrelevant to salvation; we only need to confess Jesus as Lord. Therefore, they will often ask a person, “Have you accepted Jesus as your Lord and savior?” Most Catholics get flustered at this question because we understand St. Paul’s words in the whole context of Scripture, including what St. James writes in his letter, “Faith without works is dead.”

More seriously in today’s world is the counter-Christian culture that we experience. You know the issues: same-sex marriage, acceptance of homosexual sexual practices, the high divorce rate, abortion, relativism, the glorification of science over faith, the low attendance at Sunday Liturgy and minimal practice of the faith in daily life, the violation by civil laws of our Catholic moral teachings – the list goes on and on. The demons of today’s Gospel are hard at work in our world.

What are we to do? Our faith needs to be put into actions in our good works. We are to put our faith into action. This takes precedence over every civil law. Immoral civil laws have no binding force on anyone and are not to be obeyed. They are to be dealt with as though they don’t exist.

I serve on the Ohio Catholic Conference Religious Freedom Advisory Board. In our meeting this past week we finalized our advisory statements to the Ohio bishops on whether to baptize infants being raised by same-sex couples in a civil marriage, whether, and under what conditions, to admit trans-gender youths into our elementary and high schools, and what kind of cemetery markers can be permitted to same-sex civilly married couples buried together in a Catholic cemetery. Without going into all of the details during this homily, I can tell you that much of what we are advising our bishops will not be received well by the population at large – perhaps even among the Catholic population. That’s fine. Our positions on these issues are a matter of proclaiming that Jesus is Lord. He is the ruler of all of us and his teaching is the only law that matters in the long run. We must remain faithful to him and to the teachings of his Church. If this causes us to be called bigots, intolerant or discriminatory, so be it. We need to bring our Catholic faith, which contains all of the truth about these or any other issues, to bear upon our civil legal context.

The Church has been shown right about moral issues time after time throughout the ages. When the society goes against the moral truths she teaches, chaos follows. Our country is no exception. It shouldn’t be a surprise that there are mass shootings; we have brought it upon ourselves as a society. Gun control laws, as good or even necessary as they might be, won’t solve the problems. Only returning to a proper moral framework will solve them. Only a true conversion of heart among our fellow citizens will bring peace and harmony to our country.

Pray to know God’s will. Today’s Gospel shows that Jesus has the power over demons, over evil. Pray that his power will drive out the demons in our society.

In this election year, think long and hard about the positions and values of the people for whom you will vote – not only for president, but for all offices, local and national. Faith and morals are a matter of objective truth, not majority vote.


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