Call To Observance

In 05 Homilies by Fr. Reid on 2014/09/05 at 12:00 AM

 Our readings today call us in a very direct way to learn, accept, and obey God’s commandments. In our first reading Moses tells the Israelites that it is by hearing and observing God’s commands that they will live and prove themselves wise.

 The second readings from the Letter of St. James encourages us to “humbly welcome the word that has been planted in [us] and is able to save [our] souls.”

 And in the Gospel Christ calls us to purity of intention in keeping God’s commands, not paying our Lord lip service, but truly giving Him our hearts. The underlying message of these readings is that obedience to God’s commands leads to salvation.

 As Americans we value independence, self-determination, and individual freedom. At times, these American values can make obedience seem like a bit of a hindrance and a burden.

 But as Catholics we must understand that being obedient to God’s laws is not an act of blind submission to an unknown or uncaring god. We must also understand that God gave us freedom not as a license to do as we will, but rather as the capacity for obeying His will.

 Our beautiful Catholic faith teaches us that God knows us more intimately than we know ourselves and loves us more than we can imagine, and so God is worthy of our obedience.

 Thus, obedience to God and His commands does not make us any less free. To the contrary, our faith teaches us that it is sin alone that enslaves us, and that it is in choosing to do what is right and good in God’s sight that we are made truly free.

 Furthermore, our Lord does not desire us to be obedient to Him out of fear of punishment or retribution. God desires our obedience to Him to be an act of loving and humble faithfulness, a form of homage to His omniscience and omnipotence.

 In recognizing that God is indeed all-knowing and all-powerful, and yet all-loving and all- merciful, the well formed and mature Catholic understands that obedience to God’s commands is a tacit recognition that, as a good Father, God knows what’s best for us.

 All the saints teach us that we cannot honestly profess to love God without obeying His commands. The saints also teach us that as our faith in God’s love and mercy grows, being obedient to Him becomes not only easier, but it becomes our greatest desire.

 Furthermore, the experience of the saints shows that our peace in this life and in the next can only be found in obeying the Lord with faithfulness and love.

 This week our fair city will be put into the national spotlight as the DNC takes place. As our national political process unfolds once again, moral issues of all types will be debated – for laws that govern mankind must necessarily consider the moral realm.

 So there will always be a nexus between politics and morality; it’s unavoidable. Thus, it’s as good a time as any to consider the importance of obeying God’s laws as we approach the next election.

 Certainly we are living in very confusing and divisive times in our country, and sorting out what we should believe and consequently whom we should vote for can be a difficult task for the average American.

 As Catholics we are blessed that our faith provides us with clear guidance on moral issues.
 Because we belong to the one, true Church founded by our Lord Himself, and because weknow that our teachings reflect the revelation of Jesus Christ and have been safeguarded by the Holy Spirit, we can have full confidence in the truth of our Catholic teachings.

 While the Catholic Church does not explicitly tell us whom to vote for in any given election, Holy Mother Church does provide principles for us to follow in the voting booth.

 Now I realize that discussing voting from the pulpit is a touchy issue with some people. As voting is one of the great privileges we enjoy as Americans, some tend to view what we do in the voting booth as a sacred right upon which no one may trespass – not even God.

 But as your pastor I want you to know that, despite whatever misinterpretations of the division between Church and State are being pedaled by politicians and the politically correct, we should not cease to be Catholic in the voting booth.

 As your pastor, I don’t want any of you to fall prey to the delusion that voting is an amoral act that has no consequences for your soul. It does have consequences!

 If we are to be true to our Lord and His commands, we must vote in a way that is consistent with our Catholic beliefs. And so rather than thinking of ourselves as Democrats or Republicans in the voting booth, we should think of ourselves first of all as Catholics.

 What does it mean to vote as a Catholic? Recently, Archbishop Lori of Baltimore gave some good advice on this issue. He said: “The question to ask is this: Are any of the candidates of either party, or independents, standing for something that is intrinsically evil, evil no matter what the circumstances? If that’s the case, a Catholic, regardless of his party affiliation, shouldn’t be voting for such a person.”

 When it comes to issues of intrinsic evil, we must look at those issues that deal with life. In particular, abortion, same-sex unions, human cloning, embryonic stem cell research, and euthanasia are all intrinsically evil acts, and therefore as Catholics we cannot support candidates who promote or support these evils.

 Moreover, while issues such as health care, immigration reform, and the economy are important and may certainly have a moral dimension to them, they must not be accorded greater value in our decision-making than the life issues because they do not deal with intrinsic evils.

 Furthermore, in addition to the life issues, we must also now consider the issue of religious freedom. On this issue Archbishop Lori advises that: “The defense of religious liberty should not be a Democratic or Republican issue. This should be fundamental, as people of faith.” Thus, this issue – along with life issues – must be given the most weight in our considerations for whom to vote.

 You may have seen the article on the front page of the Catholic News Herald that talks about 2 banners that have been hung outside at St. Peter’s on Tryon Street. One of them reads: “Religious Liberty: The Soul of Democracy.” It’s so true.

 Our country was founded, in part, to give people the right to worship as they choose. It’s fundamental to who we are as Americans. If we lose this right, there is no limit to the other rights we could lose. If we lose this right, we will no longer be “the Land of the Free.”

 So we must ask ourselves in the voting booth which candidates will best safeguard our sacred, God-given, and therefore inalienable right to practice our Catholic faith.

 Unfortunately, even with clear principles to guide us, choosing for whom to vote can still be a tricky issue because candidates may be strong in some areas and weak in others. Too many times in recent history, voting as a Catholic has meant choosing the lesser of two evils.

 In looking at this reality, I can only conclude that we, as Catholics, need to do a better of job of being leaven in our world!
 The Catholic Church possesses the fullness of the Truth. We are the Church founded by Jesus Christ, who Is Truth, and we have a responsibility to bear witness to that Truth, who is Jesus.

 As your pastor it is my job to teach our Catholic faith with clarity so that you may form your consciences properly. And then you, the laity, must take our beautiful faith out into the world to transform it!

 One of the ways you exercise your responsibility and preach the truth is by voting in a way that is consonant with the teachings of the Church, and by helping others to do the same. And considering the state of our country, we need to do this now more than ever.

 My dear brothers and sisters, God calls us today to fidelity to His commands. He calls us to recognize Him as the way, the TRUTH, and the life, and to share that knowledge with others.

 Let us obey our Lord and His commands with gratitude, humility, and great love by voting inthis year’s elections not as Democrats or Republicans, but as CATHOLICS.

 And by God’s grace, may we recover our country’s Christian roots, and reclaim America asthe Land of the Free, and the Home of the Brave.

 May our Lady intercede for us, and may God bless America.

2 September 2012

© Reverend Timothy Reid

Fr. Reid is the pastor of St. Ann Catholic Church, Charlotte, NC

Homilies from June 17, 2012 onward have audio .
To enable the audio, please go directly to Fr. Reid’s homily homilies and select the matching date.

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