Gospel and Homily Transcript
Jesus answered the Jews:
“My Father is at work until now, so I am at work.”
For this reason they tried all the more to kill him,
because he not only broke the sabbath
but he also called God his own father, making himself equal to God.
Jesus answered and said to them,
“Amen, amen, I say to you, the Son cannot do anything on his own,
but only what he sees the Father doing;
for what he does, the Son will do also.
For the Father loves the Son
and shows him everything that he himself does,
and he will show him greater works than these,
so that you may be amazed.
For just as the Father raises the dead and gives life,
so also does the Son give life to whomever he wishes.
Nor does the Father judge anyone,
but he has given all judgment to the Son,
so that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father.
Whoever does not honor the Son
does not honor the Father who sent him.
Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever hears my word
and believes in the one who sent me
has eternal life and will not come to condemnation,
but has passed from death to life.
Amen, amen, I say to you, the hour is coming and is now here
when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God,
and those who hear will live.
For just as the Father has life in himself,
so also he gave to the Son the possession of life in himself.
And he gave him power to exercise judgment,
because he is the Son of Man.
Do not be amazed at this,
because the hour is coming in which all who are in the tombs
will hear his voice and will come out,
those who have done good deeds
to the resurrection of life,
but those who have done wicked deeds
to the resurrection of condemnation.
“I cannot do anything on my own;
I judge as I hear, and my judgment is just,
because I do not seek my own will
but the will of the one who sent me.”
Conception through Natural Death Transcript
Bishop Barron has an interesting commentary on today’s gospel which deals so much with judgment. The image he suggests is that judgment brings light and with that light comes truth. Light brings out the colors of fabric and the beauty of life, but light also reveals corruption and disease and decay. Light brings truth. Jesus is indeed the light of the world, and with that light, comes judgment revealing in our lives–and in our culture–the truth of who we are and what we are about.
Our first reading from the prophet Isaiah, chapter 49 says, “In the time a favor I answered you. On the day of salvation I helped you and I have kept you and given you as a covenant to the people.” We are that covenant and we are to stand as witnesses to our culture. If people are to believe the truth of the gospel, if they’re going to come to believe in Jesus, it will be because of the witness of our lives. It’s not just what we say on our lips but the values we hold and the values we enact as individuals and as a people.
Our reading from the prophet Isaiah today is not just addressed to an individual, it’s addressed to the nation of Israel. Over and over again the Gospels call us to recognize that we are saved not just as individuals but as we’re members of a culture or members of a church. It’s in that context that we hear these powerful beautiful challenging words at the end of today’s reading. Zion says–the people say–the Lord has forsaken me; the Lord has forgotten me. The prophet offers this image: “Can a mother forget her infant–be without tenderness for the child of her womb–yet even if she forget, I will never forget you. God is saying, ‘I will be more faithful than the mother is to her child. I will be more faithful to you than a mother is to the child in her womb or with a child at her breast.’ This feminine image is of the fidelity and the tenderness and the love of God. I don’t think we can hear these words today without recognizing that there is a crisis of protection of life within our culture.
Our Catholic Church has been admirable in a holding up the sanctity of all life. Beginning with Pope Leo the XIII there’s been strong statements coming from the Vatican on the protection and the dignity of human life. Most recently we have statements from St. Pope John Paul II and then repeated by Pope Benedict. Perhaps one day St. Pope Benedict but put Pope emeritus Benedict and repeated again and again from Pope Francis on the importance of linking what Cardinal Bernardin called “the seamless garment of life.” As Catholic Christians we’re called to stand for advocacy of all life.
Here’s a statement from Benedict the XVI in his encyclical Caritas in Veritate: “The Church forcefully maintains this link between life ethics and social ethics, fully aware that ‘a society lacks solid foundations when, on the one hand, it asserts values such as the dignity of the person, justice and peace, but then, on the other hand, radically acts to the contrary by allowing or tolerating a variety of ways in which human life is devalued and violated, especially where it is weak or marginalized.'” (no. 15).
The Catholic Church stands with protecting the unborn and the Catholic Church stands with protecting the poor and the vulnerable and it is so difficult to put those two together. If we’re more conservative, then we’re all about the rights of the unborn and for us who are conservative the pro-life movement means protecting the unborn. If we’re more liberal, protecting life means standing in solidarity with the poor, with immigrants, with refugees, with those on on death row. It’s unfortunately a rare Catholic Christian who puts those two together. We tend to tip one way or the other and our political parties tip one way or the other. One party, being very strong in its advocacy for protecting the unborn, the other political party being very strong in terms of protecting the rights of poor and immigrants.
The Catholic Church says we have to integrate both of those. Pope Francis has been tireless in his advocacy trying to link those two together. Cardinal Cupich has been very strong in his statements in that regard as well. In a letter dated March 23rd Cardinal Cupich wrote to us about two very dangerous pieces of legislation that have been introduced into the Illinois legislature. Let me just quote from that letter.
–I’ve given you copies which are on the table in the back there and I’d urge you to pick up a copy of this letter. If you’re listening to this as a videotape there’s a link at the end of the video that will also give give these references. CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THE HANDOUT–
“Recently, two bills have been introduced in the Illinois House and Senate. The first, House Bill 2495 and Senate Bill 1942, both identical pieces of legislation, seeks to strip unborn persons of any protection – or even consideration – under the law and declare abortion to be a “fundamental right” and matter of health care. The end result is that an abortion could be obtained at any stage of pregnancy, including late term, for any reason and without any regulation. The law would no longer guarantee any modicum of humanity or compassion for any unborn person in Illinois, even if they are partially born. This legislation also repeals the Abortion Performance Refusal Act, which protects doctors, nurses and hospitals who refuse to permit, recommend, perform or assist in abortion. In so doing, rights of conscience, especially religious objections, will be lost.
The second piece of legislation House Bill 2467 and its identical Senate Bill 1594, repeals the Illinois Parental Notice of Abortion Act. This law, upheld unanimously by the Illinois Supreme Court just six years ago, has the common-sense purpose of ensuring that parents would be part of the life-altering decision of their minor child in the case she seeks an abortion. This effective law has reduced abortions performed on minors by fifty-seven percent.
As citizens of a state and people of faith who care about the common good, I urge you to join me and my brother bishops in an effort to defeat this radical departure from current law and practice in our state.”
He then gives a website for further information and where we can go let our voice be heard with our legislature and there is a hotline number.
As I said, if we’re more conservative we hear this and we say, “Yes, we need to speak out against this.” But as I’ve mentioned this to some of my more liberal friends, I’ve been shocked–quite frankly–at their inability to hear what a critical issue this is. Yet at the same time, we have a crisis of immigration with refugees seeking entrance into our country at record numbers. The statement in the USCCB on immigration:
“The Catholic Church believes that immigrants should come to the United States lawfully, but it also understands that the current immigration legal framework does not adequately reunify families and is non-responsive to our country’s need for labor.
Our country must pass immigration reform laws to ensure the rule of law in the United States, while simultaneously ensuring that the laws that rule are responsive to our economy’s demand for labor, rooted in the reunification of family, and respectful of the humanity of the immigrants in our midst. The Church supports immigration reform that would increase the number of visas available for low-skilled workers and facilitate family reunification.”
These are two sides of this seamless garment of life and it is so difficult for us to agree on both of these and yet this is our Catholic policy, affirmed again and again by our bishops again and again, by the last four popes.
The USCCB statement on a plan of action says we need education. We need more than simply listening to Fox News or NPR or CNN. We need to read the statements of our Church. We need deep prayer because it’s the only way that our hearts are to be softened and we need policy and advocacy efforts to mobilize our Catholic community so that our legislators are responsive to these Catholic values.
Education, prayer, policy and advocacy to mobilize the Catholic communities on issues of life, justice and peace. The USCCB statement ends by saying, “in this way the Catholic community celebrates the gift of human life and witnesses to the good news of Jesus Christ.”