I’m not preaching this weekend, but found myself re-reading my homily for three years ago for this Sunday, which was delivered just days after the Supreme Court decision that legalized same-sex marriage.
It’s still a message worth remembering:
Checking my iPad, it was not hard to find reaction in the Catholic media—from to outrage, to sadness, to calls for civil disobedience.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic bishops called the decision a “tragic error” and “immoral.”
Make no mistake: this decision could have far-reaching implications for the Church.
But I don’t think it is a moment for us to cower. We should not consider ourselves victims.
Taking our cue from today’s gospel, I’d like to suggest something else.
I think this is a moment for us to be prophets.
Webster’s defines a prophet as “one who utters divinely inspired revelation…an effective spokesman for a cause.”
This is our moment to claim our cause, and to live it, to be what we are baptized to be: true and faithful followers of Jesus Christ.
In a statement after the court decision, Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, head of the U.S. Catholic bishops cited St. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians and said: “I encourage Catholics to move forward with faith, hope, and love: faith in the unchanging truth about marriage…hope that these truths will once again prevail in our society…and love for all our neighbors, even those who hate us or would punish us for our faith and moral convictions.”
My friend Elizabeth Scalia writing on her blog, offered this: “We go forward, in faithfulness to the gospel, with a determination to love.” And she added “We need to work with the mind of a missionary church, meeting people where they are…Our first calling,” she wrote, “isn’t to wail about Caesar, but to save the souls of whoever comes to us…”
It was that sort of spirit that led the Archdiocese of Denver last week to launch an online campaign it called “Mission of Joy.” The archdiocese laid out the mission very simply: “To accept the challenge of living as authentic followers of Jesus Christ in a world that has largely forgotten him.”
The goal, they said, was to fill social media—Facebook, Twitter, Instagram—not with messages of victimhood and vengeance, but with something more radical:
Hope and joy.
Hundreds of postings poured in, from around the country. People shared pictures of family gatherings, quotes from saints, stories about how they found their way back to the church. One person is even embarking on a project to begin a marriage formation program for lay people. The outpouring was remarkable and inspiring. And it’s only just begun.
More than ever, we need to be prophets of the gospel, and remind the world why this is called “good news.”
But, sadly, it’s not a message many want to hear. In some countries, it will land you in jail. It may even cost you your life. If you run a bakery, you might be sued or silenced. On the streets of New York, if you are a Catholic priest, it may even get you spit on. You don’t have to look far today to find the “insults, hardships, persecutions and constraints” that St. Paul described.
But we hold fast to this: no matter the challenges, God assures us, as he assured Paul: “My grace is sufficient.”
He gives us all we need.