Calling Evil Good
Abbey of the Genesee
The theme of today’s readings, my brothers and sisters in Christ, is as obvious as Mount Everest in your front yard. All four readings speak of it in their own way. Indeed, the Responsorial Psalm is almost an exact echo of the First Reading from Jeremiah. So also the reading from Matthew’s Gospel gives us the same message in a somewhat different form. The message? The wicked are cursed, whereas the righteous are blessed. I think the Church must be very eager for us to grasp this message for she has made every effort to shout it out to us loud and clear. It is a message for all time and especially our own.
Let us direct our attention to one side of the picture. I’m sure you are aware that sin and eternal damnation have suffered an eclipse in recent years. Some years ago Karl Stern, a psychiatrist wrote a book about the disappearance of sin in modern society. He didn’t mean that people had stopped sinning. Rather they had ceased talking about it. It was dropping out of communal consciousness. Once you have eliminated the idea of sin you can kid yourself into believing that you can do whatever you wish. Sin is the refusal to obey God and his law. Do away with sin and God can no longer hold us responsible for our acts. Of course it is an illusion, but some can always be found to fall into it.
How can they kid themselves like that? The first step is to give sinful acts new names that don’t sound so oppressive. Sin is renamed disease. Abortion sounds too much like murder, so it is called terminating a pregnancy, or women’s reproductive health. Contraception is cloaked over with the name planned parenthood, which is both a euphemism and a misnomer. There is nothing wrong with couples planning to be parents. Indeed it is the very purpose of marriage. But using contraception is not planning to be parents. Quite the opposite. It is planning to avoid parenthood at least through this act. Every use of contraception contributes to the declining fertility rates in Europe, Canada and the USA so that our culture as we know it is on the way to extinction. Euthanasia will do to gloss over the murder of elderly and defective people. Indeed, the Hemlock Society which pushes euthanasia changed its name to Compassion. Sodomy is advanced as gay rights for those with a homosexual orientation. Gay people push for the right to gay marriage without proving that such a right even exists. The Church, of course, does not recognize such a right. Sodomy has always been condemned by the Church. Adultery and fornication are called safe sex, free love, or intimacy and those who commit them are not deemed guilty, but just sexually active. They are not told to cease from such conduct, but are advised to receive sex education and to use condoms.
What next? The sinful lifestyle is proposed to be accepted, even legalized, by the civil government. Then the authorization can be used to stifle the conscience. Euthanasia has been legalized in Oregon and Washington. Some states have already authorized gay marriage. And of course, Roe vs. Wade opened Pandora’s box allowing fifty million children to be slaughtered in the womb.
Does all this nullify the word of God: that sinful activity results in misery and condemnation? By no means. Call cyanide sugar and put it in your coffee. Drink it, and it’ll kill you despite the sweet name. Sin by any other name will smell the same. It stinks. When committed it produces disastrous effects.
God himself has told us what he thinks of all this verbal subterfuge. In the prophet Isaiah we read: “Woe to those who say evil is good and good evil: who pass off darkness for light and light for darkness: who claim bitter is sweet and sweet, bitter.” (Is 5:20 AT)
This business has been around for a long time. Let’s go way back in history to a time when there were no sinners on the face of earth. Adam and Eve were created innocent and lived in peace, joy, and harmony in the garden of Eden. They were without, sin and without misery. God had given them a command, and they knew it was evil to disobey him. Then the tempter came along. He didn’t start out by suggesting they eat the fruit of the forbidden tree. He began by sowing doubt about God in their minds. He assured them that if they ate of the fruit, they wouldn’t die. He said God was tricking them to keep them from the joy and pleasure of eating the fruit and becoming like God. So he sugarcoated the cyanide and made it seem beautiful and desirable. They ate, and they died. They had been like flourishing plants in the garden and after their sin they were blown out of the garden like chaff. The Bible from chapter one of Genesis to the last pages of Revelation is full of the terrible consequences of their sinful act. It started with the murder of Abel by their first born Cain. The daily murders, frauds, marital infidelities, sexual assaults and other sins we read about daily in our newspapers can be traced back to that one seduction of two innocent people by Satan, the liar and murderer since the beginning.
We need to examine our own conscience and see if we call evil good by rationalizing away our sins. It is easy to do. Let us call a sin a sin, and with God’s good help repent, and seek to live according to God’s will so that we will find ourselves among the just who are blessed. Furthermore let us love all those who have the misfortune to be living in sin, and pray for them, that Christ will bring them out of the darkness and into his glorious light.
02-14-10 Homily for the Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time C II
First Reading: Jer 17:5-8
Responsorial Psalm: 1:1-2, 3, 4, 6
Second Reading 1 Cor 15:12, 16-20
Gospel: Lk 16:17, 20-26