Homily, Second Sunday of Advent 2010

 Fr. Dwight Campbell, S.T.D., St. Thomas More Church, Chicago, IL

In the season of Advent, Holy Church asks that we contemplate the two comings of Christ:  His First Coming, in the humility, when the Eternal Word became flesh and was born of the Virgin Mary, in order one day to offer his life on the Cross and to redeem us from our sins; and His Second Coming, when at the end of the world He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, as we profess in the Symbol of our Faith, the Creed. 

We know neither the day nor the hour when the Son of Man will return, but Jesus warns us to be always watchful and vigilant; and Jesus, like Saints Peter and Paul in their epistles, give us warning signs to know when the end of the world is coming and when the son of perdition, the Antichrist, will make his appearance. For example, we are told that as the world’s end approaches, men’s hearts will grow cold, that there will occur a great apostasy or falling away from the faith, and that people, with itching ears, will run after and embrace all types of false teachings.

Recent events throughout the world, in our nation, and particularly in our own State of Illinois, make me wonder whether we are, indeed, coming closer to the end.

Back in the 1950s a movie was produced, “The Invasion of the Body Snatchers.” It was a science fiction story about aliens who invade our planet. The aliens take over people’s bodies – or make replicas of people’s bodies (I can’t recall exactly) – so that one’s friends, neighbors and fellow workers appear to be the people one knows, but in fact they are aliens who are using people’s bodies, in disguise. By speaking with them you would know something was not right, not normal; they spoke and acted in a creepy manner, as if they were being programmed.

Well, this is how I feel, and I’m sure many of you as well, in our encounters with friends and acquaintances in our present time. Can anyone imagine, even fathom, 20 or 30 years ago, that a majority of people would advocate and see nothing wrong with homosexual unions, and be in favor of laws in which the state gives legal recognition to such unions, placing them on equal footing with marriage? If someone 20 or 30 years ago said this would happen, you’d think they were crazy, that they were uttering nonsense. And yet, this has happened in many countries throughout the world, in many states in our own country, and, just this past week, it happened here in Illinois. 

The local newspapers this week reported that polls show that 57% of people favor or see nothing wrong with so-called same-sex unions. And haven’t we all encountered relatives and friends whom we thought we knew well, who think likewise? It’s as if their minds have been taken over by alien spirits – I would submit, not alien spirits, but spirits from below!

Francis Cardinal George penned an article a couple of weeks ago explaining why such laws should never be enacted:  “Everyone has a right to marry, but no one has the right to change the nature of marriage,” he said, and, “the public understanding of marriage will be negatively affected by passage of a bill that ignores the natural fact that sexual complementarity is at the core of marriage” (Chicago Sun-Times, 11/23/10, p. 16).

We may wonder why people fail to see the inherent evil in such legislation. I’ll tell you why.  First of all, people’s minds have been numbed by watching television shows such as “Will and Grace” for the past 15 years; their consciences have been deadened by the popular culture. The second reason is contraception and sterilization:  if sexual activity is purely for pleasure rather than being ordered toward the procreation of new human life, then homosexual sodomy becomes just another option for sexual satisfaction.

Last week, Cardinal George personally telephoned a number of Catholic legislators in our state – some of them, I understand, he telephoned numerous times – before the vote was taken on Senate Bill 516; but, to no avail. The bill passed both houses.

Bishop Thomas Paprocki of the Springfield Diocese, the former auxiliary bishop here in Chicago, warned Gov. Quinn, who has yet to sign the bill into law, that “the Catholic Church does not support civil unions or other measures that are contrary to the natural moral law.”  Gov. Quinn responded, “I follow my conscience, . . . and my conscience is not kicking me in the shins today. . . . My religious faith animates me to support this bill” (Chicago Sun-Times, 12/12/10, p. 20).  I’d be willing to give the Governor a good kick in the shins if it would help to enlighten his conscience.

Gov. Quinn’s statements, and the other Catholic legislators who no doubt agree with him in supporting this legislation, reveal to us that they have no regard for the clear teachings of the Bible and the Church. To put it very simply, sodomy is a sin. This bill in the effect legalizes sodomy, gives it a stamp of approval, by legitimizing unions between two people of the same sex, and thus is a step toward redefining the God-given institution of marriage, which the State has no authority or power to do.

By voting in favor of this proposed law, these Catholics have committed a grave sin and have taken themselves out of communion with the Church; additionally, they have committed grave scandal, and as a result, they are out of a State of Grace and can no longer licitly receive Holy Communion – unless and until they publicly repent of their wrongdoing and renounce their actions in order to make reparation for the public scandal they have caused (per Raymond Cardinal Burke, Prefect, Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura).

Moreover, Gov. Quinn’s statement about “following his conscience” reveals that he lacks a true understanding of what conscience is. Conscience is not “doing what ever I think is right.” Gov. Quinn has fallen into what Fr. John Hardon calls “the greatest demonic deception ever proposed to the human race,” a deception that many, if not most of the people in our modern age have embraced:  that “I” am the ultimate arbiter of right and wrong, that “I” will decide for myself what is good and what is evil. This is really the original deception offered to our first parents, and the deception offered to people today:  “Here, eat this fruit, and you will become like gods! You, not God, not the Church, will decide what is right and wrong!”

The truth is that conscience is not “doing whatever I want to do, whatever I think is right.” Conscience is not an act of the will; rather, conscience is a judgment of the intellect, whereby we applied the moral law, as revealed in the Bible and as taught by Jesus Christ and His Church, to the circumstances at hand. For example, I know that the Bible and the Church teach that homosexual sodomy is a gravely sinful, and that marriage is designed by God to be a union between a man and a woman for life that is ordered toward both uniting the husband and wife in love and the procreation of new human life; therefore, I cannot vote for any law which would legalize and give approval to homosexual sodomy and attempt to put same-sex unions on par with marriage.

Gov. Quinn’s statement reveals that either:  1) his conscience is malformed on this issue and that he is ignorant of the Catholic Church’s teaching – which is highly doubtful considering that he attended Catholic schools and a Catholic university, at a time when they still taught the authentic Catholic Faith; or 2) he is being dishonest, and using the line “following my conscience” as an excuse for doing something that he thinks is politically expedient.

About 500 years ago, there was a high-ranking public official who was encouraged by friends and family members to do what was “politically expedient.” He refused to do so, and he died the king’s good servant, but God’s first. His name was Thomas More.

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