At that time the Lord appointed seventy others, and sent them on ahead of him, two by two, in every town or place where he himself was about to come.–Luke 10:1
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
A few years back, my family drove to Northern New Mexico for vacation. It’s a peaceful enough drive. The grasslands of central Texas turn into the dusty plains of the panhandle, which in turn create a picturesque flatness to view the jagged Mountains of Northern New Mexico. When I get out on those roads I find myself imaging the pioneers trying to head west for a better life. They had a spirit about them that we as Americans have inherited, a spirit of working hard, having a vision, and completing that vision come what may. And it definitely came!
On that same trip, as we went over the mountains, we came to the picturesque adobe town of Taos. We found to our surprise that the city looks out to the west over flat land. We drove some ten miles out on that flat land and suddenly, out of nowhere; there was a massive gorge in the Earth, a gap that goes down some 800 feet. It’s a rift in the Earth caused by two tectonic plates, as well as the Rio Grand River. It looks impassible. I remember thinking to myself what did the pioneers do when they came to this gorge, and then looking back I saw Taos on the horizon, and thought…they settled there.
Some did, but others found a way around or finally built a bridge over this great gorge, utilizing that pioneer spirit to find a way to pass what looked like the impassable.
Today it seems as if the Catholic Church in the United States has come upon a great gorge in our journey, one that threatens us, seems to be impassable, one that threatens to defeat our journey, stopping us right in our tracks. It’s really a combination of challenges, which can be summed up with one word: secularism. A changing of our society from one based on Christian morals to one that has eliminated those morals and makes judgments on purely human reason. Simply put, taking God out of the equation. It’s been a slow process, just as the Rio Grande has slowly over time carved out an 800 foot deep gorge. But this progression has finally caused some major decisions in our society, which fly in the face of the Catholic Faith, the Faith once delivered to the Saints by Jesus Christ.
We as Catholics, like those pioneers who faced the Rio Grande Gorge, have a decision to make. Do we settle? Do we allow the secular society to stop us in our tracks? Do we just come to terms with this change and try to make the Church form its teachings around purely human reasoning?
The answer to those questions is clearly “No!” So then what do we do?
Today’s Gospel reading from St. Luke gives us guidance. We go out in the name of Jesus and begin to teach. We pass the impassable by presenting sound arguments that specifically outline what is wrong with these changes, which were at first subtle and now have become blatant. Please mark my words, if we, as faithful Catholics do not begin to stand up, and stand firm, then the inch that has been given will turn into a mile.
After the announcement at Church last Sunday concerning the recent Supreme Court decision to do away with the Defense of Marriage Act, a friend of mine asked me why I related the Supreme Court ruling with the recent HHS mandate on contraception, which challenges our First Amendment right to freedom of religion. I said to him that the agenda has been set; once the definition of marriage is changed and society accepts it, which is happening right now, then the next move will be to make religious entities permit it. The inch will become a mile.
How do we face this situation? We face it one soul at a time. Each of us has probably had this conversation with many of our friends. It has become a national debate, a hot topic of interest. In these situations we must stand firm in our faith. We must engage this conversation in charity, yes, but we must engage the conversation. Through this great inheritance we have been given from our pioneering ancestors we, through God’s grace, will make a difference. People yearn to hear the truth, something larger than their own human reasoning, but if they don’t hear it, and the Catholic Church is muted in society, then they will rely on their own unformed consciences to make decisions.
Go from this place today and begin to engage the culture around you, so that one day we may meet the Lord and He shall say to us,
I saw Satan fall like lighting from heaven. Behold I have given you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing shall hurt you. Nevertheless, do not in rejoice this, that the spirits are subject to you; but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
Fr. Hough’s homily of July 7, 2013 is presented here with minor revisions.