25 March 2010
Solemnity of the Annunciation
Homily notes and main points compiled after extemporaneous homily…
15 years ago today, on this Solemnity of the Annunciation, Pope John Paul II issued his encyclical letter Evengelium Vitae – The Gospel of Life. This most significant and beautiful text reiterated the truth about the dignity of human life in the midst of a time when disdain for life had gripped much of the world.
God is the author of all life.
Men and women are created in the image and likeness of God.
Every human person has an inherent dignity, not because of anything we do, but because of who we are: people created in the divine image.
Human life possesses that dignity from the moment of conception until the moment when God chooses to call us home to Himself.
The beginning and end of life are in the hands of God.
The ultimate decisions about life are God’s and not ours.
15 years later, we are witnessing a dark time in our nation’s history – a time when the gospel of life is trampled underfoot, a time when our government and the representatives we the people elected reject the dignity of life, federally fund the of children, enshrine evil and in law, ignore the dignity of the conscience of human persons and restrict the freedom of men and women to act as their moral values and conscience prompt them.
In this time, a wound in the Mystical Body of Christ, the Church, has been exposed, and exploited by those same political leaders. In one of the local newspapers the block quote in the center of an article on the health care bill read something like “Catholic bishops, faithful and health care professionals at odds over health care.” That was painful for me to read. It is sad to see that the perception of the general public toward our Church, which we love, is that we are “at odds” with one another over the dignity of human life. It need not be so. It ought not be so!
What we are seeing is not simply a human argument, not a disagreement over man-made teaching, over mere words, but a division over the truth about human life. This is not a moment of agreeable disagreement.
It is even more than a disagreement over Church teaching. It is a division over Christ.
As Pope Benedict XVI has said, the Church is not a set of philosophies and ethical codes. It is an encounter with a person: Jesus Christ. Some among us have encountered Christ and said “yes” to Him. Some of our brothers and sisters whom we love have encountered Christ, have heard His voice speaking through His Church, and said “no.”
Today we celebrate the Annunciation.
Mary is visited by the angel who announces the miraculous birth of the Savior…etc…
Mary, despite the fear and confusion she no doubt felt at this incredible event in her life, was inspired by her faith and love to say “yes” to God. She did not say…why me…what will people think…who am I…it’s my body…none of that…instead she said “yes” to God!
Saint Bernard wrote that the whole world held its breath waiting for her answer. For upon that answer depended everything.
Her answer inaugurated God’s saving plan and changed the world forever…etc…
As we hear this Gospel, we hear Jesus speaking to us.
Jesus is calling us to say “yes” to Him!
He is calling us to be healers of the wound in the Body of Christ, to be living witnesses to Him, to apply the salve of His love and truth to the wound in His Body that is infected with evil.
We reveal the truth about love, life, marriage, priesthood, the Church…all the essential elements of our faith…as we encounter people and share those truths with them.
We ought to pray and ask God how and when it is that He desires us to speak the truth and then to do so with confident faith and with love.
Our “yes”…our witness…can change the world…etc…
Praise be to Jesus Christ, son of God and son of Mary!