These are difficult days for our Church and for our nation. Already some of our preachers have been criticized by their hearers for not speaking out strongly enough against the excesses of power in the Church which have brought condemnation upon the hierarchy and its response to accusations of abuse. During the current mourning period for the Senator from Arizona, we have heard accusations hurled against the nation’s political leadership for it’s perceived abuses of power.
This may not be the right time to remind one another of Jesus’ words: “Let the one who is without sin cast the first stone (Jn 8:7).”
What might we hear from the pulpit this September Sunday morning?
Since we often hear the assertion that the United States of America was “founded on Judeo-Christian values,” we might hear homilies this Sunday which remind us that although these values are nobly expressed in the religious traditions of a certain people, they are also universal values because they spring from the author of all life and all goodness.
Values which do not lead to action, to decisions, are not values, they are empty words (Be doers of the word and not hearers only, deluding yourselves. Jas 1:22). Values are proven in the hard decisions which often result from having to resolve a conflict of values. We cannot be a country that believes in freedom if the voting rights of citizens are manipulated by politically biased distributions of that voting power (something which has already been decided by the courts).
What are the values that we hear proclaimed by the “Word of the Lord” today?
Our values are trans-boundary; they invite all people to the table of wisdom and justice: thus will you give evidence of your wisdom and intelligence to the nations…what great nation has statutes and decrees that are as just as this whole law which I am setting before you today? (Dt 4:6,8)
Justice is a fundamental value in the way we use our money or riches: The one who does justice will live in the presence of the Lord. Who lends not his money at usury and accepts no bribe against the innocent (Ps 15:2,4).
Sin is a reality that defiles the human heart: From within people, from their hearts, come evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, folly. All these evils come from within and they defile (Mk 7:21-23).
The Word of the Lord brings life and healing to the human heart: Humbly welcome the word that has been planted in you and is able to save your souls (Jas 1:21).
The challenges to our ecclesiastical and political systems may rise and fall, the Word of the Lord stands firm.
Fr. Arthur Carrillo, C.P. is the director of the Missions for Holy Cross Province. He lives in Citrus Heights, California.