26th/27th June 2021

posted 5 Jul 2021, 01:40 by Parish Office

Homily for the Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B (26 & 27/6/21)

Last Sunday was our Day for Life, focusing on the weak, the vulnerable, those at the last stages of life, their protection and defence. Today’s first reading and Gospel speak about life and death, health and well-being, with faith being an important part of it. The first reading:

“Death was not God’s doing…

To be – for this he created all …

God did make man imperishable,

he made him in the image of his own nature;

it was the devil’s envy that brought death into the world,

as those who are his partners will discover.” (Wis 1:13. 14. 2:23-24)

Back in 1995, Pope St John Paul II published Evangelium Vitae, a document about the importance of everyone standing up in defence of human life, especially at its earliest and latest stages, when it is threatened by abortion and euthanasia. He identified how, in society, there is a battle going on between what he called the “Culture of Life” and the “Culture of Death” – the Culture of Life, which comes from God and revealed to us through the Gospel, is one where all life is respected and cherished, whilst the Culture of Death is to do with selfishness, looking after only yourself, and seeing others as a nuisance and an inconvenience, even to the point of indifference towards others (think of the rich man and Lazarus) and also their elimination. We have all been affected in different ways by the corrosive effects of the Culture of Death – it’s present in our media, our education system, our news, the general culture. As Pope St John Paul II puts it:

“The first to be harmed are women, children, the sick or suffering, and the elderly. The criterion of personal dignity – which demands respect, generosity and service – is replaced by the criterion of efficiency, functionality and usefulness: others are considered not for what they "are", but for what they "have, do and produce". This is the supremacy of the strong over the weak.” (EV 23)

Of course, the problem is wider than just the “traditional” pro-life issues. He also mentions poverty, violence, malnutrition, hunger; the arms trade; “the spreading of death caused by reckless tampering with the world's ecological balance, by the criminal spread of drugs, or by the promotion of certain kinds of sexual activity which, besides being morally unacceptable,

also involve grave risks to life” (EV 10). We can ask ourselves if anything has really changed. There is still a lot of work to be done.

These issues have not gone away, but certain people on “the other side” don’t want to listen, it seems, so Pope Francis has tried a different tactic. Rather than an encyclical on pro-life matters, he must have thought, let’s pick an issue they do want to hear about, and sneak pro-life matters in under the radar. So what do we have? Laudato si’ – On Care for our Common Home. It sounds rather nice – Pope Francis making reference to St Francis’ Canticle of the Creatures and writing about care for the environment. But, for those who actually read it, it contains all sorts of pro-life statements, connecting care for the planet with care for humanity. He speaks about those who want to reduce the population, rather than to properly assist poor countries, and who tie economic aid to certain so-called “reproductive health” policies – i.e. contraception and abortion (no. 50). He says that we must both look after animals and the rest of creation – it’s not an either/or matter. Some people seem to care more about other species than human beings (no. 90-2). To quote him directly:

“Since everything is interrelated, concern for the protection of nature is also incompatible with the justification of abortion. How can we genuinely teach the importance of concern for, other vulnerable beings, however troublesome or inconvenient they may be, if we fail to protect a human embryo, even when its presence is uncomfortable and creates difficulties?” (no. 120) [See also nos. 117 & 136].

We all have different areas of the faith that we are interested in, and it’s a matter of bringing them all together and keeping them all in balance, underpinned by prayer. Our world is broken. But it’s when we identify the cause that we can begin to solve the problem. We need to move away from treating others with a mindset of what they have, do and make, to looking at them with respect, generosity and service. For we are all made in the image and likeness of God, no matter how we are packaged.