Holy Family

Holy Family

Friday, June 29, 2012

Feast of Saints Peter and Paul

Good morning. I know without a doubt there is a God, and yet despite this life can have some very lonely and uncertain moments. Nightly I look to the sky, and more nights than not the truth of His being is painted on the canvas of the night sky. All the same I am forever bewildered by how people’s words and actions, including my own, are not centered on the Truth of His being. We read in today’s Gospel the response by Peter to the question asked by Jesus as to who people said that He was, and Peter’s response was “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” Each of us knows this truth, and yet so often we tend to not live our lives in a way that our words and actions reveal this truth. Yesterday was one of those days where I found myself quite bewildered. 

 I found the decision by the Supreme Court yesterday quite disconcerting and particularly taken by surprise in light of the language of the law allowing for tax payer monies to pay for elective abortions and for the failure of the law to provide essential conscience protection. That any Catholic in good conscience could support such legislation leaves me befuddled. One redeeming point in the decision by the court was that it clearly noted that the carrying out of this legislation should not interfere with the free exercise of religion. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg writing for the majority said: “Other provisions of the Constitution also check congressional overreaching. A mandate to purchase a particular product would be unconstitutional if, for example, the edict impermissibly abridged the freedom of speech, interfered with the free exercise of religion, or infringed on a liberty interest protected by the Due Process Clause.” So there remains hope for eliminating the HHS Mandate and the forced purchase of insurance which violates our beliefs. All the same I am disappointed in Justice Roberts’s support of the Affordable Care Act. 

As Blessed Pope John Paul II reminds us society must be at the service of all people but not at the risk of infringing upon people’s religious beliefs and practices, as he notes in an address given to the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences on April 27, 2001 “genuine religious convictions are the clearest manifestation of human freedom.” The current leadership of this country has clearly set forth to violate the religious beliefs and practices of Christian people in this country. The decision by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) publicly released on Friday January 20, 2012 clearly violates the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;” and it violates Catholic teaching. In his address to the Bishops of the United States the very day prior to the public announcement of the HHS Mandate, Pope Benedict noted quite prophetically that: “Many of you have pointed out that concerted efforts have been made to deny the right of conscientious objection on the part of Catholic individuals and institutions with regard to cooperation in intrinsically evil practices. Others have spoken to me of a worrying tendency to reduce religious freedom to mere freedom of worship without guarantees of respect for freedom of conscience.” The Pope went onto say that “There can be no doubt that a more consistent witness on the part of America’s Catholics to their deepest convictions would make a major contribution to the renewal of society as a whole.” 

Today we celebrate the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul. These two great leaders of Christianity were called upon to stand up for their faith, and both died a martyr’s death for their convictions. There comes a time in all our lives when we are asked to stand up for our convictions, when we are asked to speak the Truth and proclaim as Peter did: “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” It is time for all Catholics, for all people of faith to stand-up. The question put forth to Saint Peter long ago is today being asked of us, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?" We are being asked today to reveal to the world His Truth, to live each and every day for the glory of God. 

Our present government is deliberately engaging in actions and decisions which diminish and limit the free living out of our religious convictions. It is the duty of government to provide for an “environment in which religious life flourishes for the good of all. Yet, decisions have and are being made which clearly violate the free exercise of religion in areas of marriage, health care, property, and speech. This deliberate action by current leadership in this country to take away our God given rights to religious freedom cannot be tolerated and it must be defeated. We must stand up and take action so that in the words from today’s second reading we may one day say, “I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith.” It must be defeated. It will be defeated. Make a great day! 

Today we recall the good lives, gifts, and works of Saints Peter and Paul.

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