Homily – September 6, 2020

XXIII Sunday in Ordinary Time
Year A

In ancient Israel, a watchman was a term for a prophet. It was his duty to care for the people … Ezekiel is appointed to ensure that God’s Chosen People do not end up on a collision course, that they keep their eyes fixed on the Lord. This means that he has the unpopular task of pointing out wrongdoing, sin, injustices, and evil. But also to help them discover what to seek… Truth, Goodness, Beauty … God …

It is no secret that many of us have contentious relationships … with family members, friends, co-workers … parishioners … and who likes having their faults uncovered and exposed? We don’t like being told what went wrong or what not to do … But what if my behavior was on a crash course with death? What if my behavior, my words and deeds, were causing scandal to others? Would it not then be the duty of a close friend to “right my ship”, to set me straight? Of course it would. But said correction must be grounded in reality, in truth … and here in lies a huge problem we face in our society today … what is truth? What is right and what is wrong? It seems rather arbitrary these days.

Relativism dictates that there is no objective right and wrong, that morality is based on how one feels – and is therefore, relative to each person. And as such, no objective truth, reality – everything therefore is subjective … But here’s a problem: everyone will agree that racism is an injustice that ought to be called out as evil. And lets be clear – this is an absolutely objective moral truth: racism is evil. So, how does that fit within the framework of moral relativism? Only some things are objectively evil and the rest is up to me? I get to pick and choose? Maybe this is why we say racism is evil but abortion is a choice? And how do we call out other injustices sweeping our nation when a person “feels” like they are doing right … burning buildings, destroying property … How do we help one another advance in virtue and holiness in this climate?? Where are the voices of truth and reason, of goodness and understanding … that call out to love as God loves??

Lets remember to love is to confer goodness on others… St. Paul helps us to understand the mission of the watchman … he tells love is the fulfillment of the law and the law is grounded in the commandments of God … Therefore the watchman’s job is to steer the House of Israel toward God by upholding and teaching the commandments … His role is not to humiliate but pint them in toward the pursuit of that which is right, true and good. Love, then, does not validate a way of life, behavior that is sinful or destructive or morally wrong … Love seeks beauty, integrity, goodness, virtue, unity, peace … Love seeks and pursues God who is Love … even if it hurts … this is the mission of the watchman … this is the mission of the Church and it is ours as well…

How do we, in today’s confusing world, uphold moral truth and goodness, how do we exemplify that there is indeed an objective truth – that there is a difference in right from wrong … by staying grounded in the commandments of God … You see the mission of the watchman isn’t to expose faults in order to humiliate… no, his mission is to protect the people from evil, of doing harm to themselves and others and even more so, to show them the greater Good … to show them that which to pursue – so this is our mission … this is the mission of the Church… by the way we live, in word and in deed, to show that truth, moral goodness, beauty … love … God … is worth the effort of a wholehearted pursuit.

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