Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
The world offers you nothing that will last. God made the world and everything in it good. Our gift of free will and reason makes us potentially the greatest creatures of all, but we also have the potential to be the worst of all if we turn our backs on God. God gives us the world and everything in it, but that doesn’t make us more or higher than God. The root of all sin is to think and act like we are more or higher than God. Jesus said: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and decay destroy, and thieves break in and steal. But store up treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor decay destroys, nor thieves break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.” (Mt 6:19-21) Nothing is greater than God. God broke into time and creation to steal us back to himself, but we must be ready to let the “little thief” as St Thérèse of Lisieux affectionately called Jesus, we must allow Jesus save us and lead us back to our treasure in heaven. (cf. 1Thes 5:2) This is in essence leading us back to our true selves. We are God’s treasure, the crown jewels of creation. (cf. Jer 31:3; Jn 16:27; St Lawrence) “Would that all the people of the LORD were prophets! Would that the LORD might bestow his spirit on them all!” (Num 11:29b) The prayer of Moses was answered in Jesus Christ. At Pentecost, the Spirit of God was sent down onto the first members of the Church. The Holy Spirit would be shared with the world through the celebration of the Sacraments. As members of Christ’s Sacred Body, we share in the offices of Priest, Prophet, and King. (cf. Baptism Rite 62) Jesus said many times that faith in Him saves. “See, the rash have no integrity; but the just one who is righteous because of faith shall live.” (Hab 2:4) Our justification comes through faith in the power of God’s mercy. “…since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access [by faith] to this grace in which we stand, and we boast in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we even boast of our afflictions, knowing that affliction produces endurance, and endurance, proven character, and proven character, hope, and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us. For Christ, while we were still helpless, yet died at the appointed time for the ungodly. Indeed, only with difficulty does one die for a just person, though perhaps for a good person one might even find courage to die. But God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.” (Rom 5:1-8) “… whoever is not against us is for us… “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were put around his neck and he were thrown into the sea.” (Mk 9:40, 42)
The actress Uma Thurman recently disclosed in an op-ed article in the Washington Post that she had an abortion when she was a teenager. She said it has been her “darkest secret until now” when she felt she needed to respond to the heartbeat abortion law enacted by the Texas State Legislature. She said “In revealing the hole that this decision carved in me, I hope that some light will shine through, reaching women and girls who might feel a shame that they can’t protect themselves from and have no agency over. I can assure you that no one finds herself on that table on purpose.” Thurman explained that she was “accidentally impregnated by a much older man” while in her late teens. (From another source, Ms. Thurman said that she was raped.) She said that initially, she wanted to keep the baby, but after talking it over with her parents she made the difficult decision to have an abortion. Thurman now has three children and says she has “no regrets” about her choice. “The abortion I had as a teenager was the hardest decision of my life, one that caused me anguish then and saddens me even now, but it was the path to the life full of joy and love that I have experienced,” she said. “Choosing not to keep that early pregnancy allowed me to grow up and become the mother I wanted and needed to be.”
To me, the thing that seems most incongruous about her statement is that she has “no regrets”. How does “no regrets” translate into darkest secrets and sadness even now. Getting pregnant is either the result of a crime of rape or coercion, or it is consensual. It is only perceived as an accident when birth control methods fail, but as I said in another homily, the proper object of a sexual act is not pleasure but procreation. To voluntarily engage in sexual intercourse primarily for anything other than having children with the intent to love and care for them is a sin that can cause grave harm. To say that choosing an abortion led to something good is a failure to accept or to recognize the grace of God. Uma Thurman may be a good mother, but the past and continuing events of her life indicate she still suffers from the effects of sin, just like the rest of us do. Some women choose life and not worldly success. We get more than one chance to repent of our sins and to forgive and reconcile with others.
We say as Catholics to hate the sin but love the sinner. That’s what Jesus says: “Go and learn the meaning of the words, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.” (Mt 9:13)