(Twenty-Second Sunday of the Year (B): This homily was given on
[For the audio version of this homily, click here: Twenty-second Sunday 2003]
I e-mailed several friends the other day, asking them to sign an on-line petition in support of Judge Roy Moore, the chief justice of the
Now I’m sure many of you already know the story, but for the few who might not: In the year 2000, right after he was elected chief justice, Judge Moore had a two-ton granite monument placed in the rotunda of the Alabama Judicial building—which immediately caused people in the ACLU and other such groups to experience cardiac arrest! Why? Because the Ten Commandments were on it! Oh, how terrible! What a crime! God forbid we should have a monument on display in a courthouse of the United States of America which says on it, “Do not kill,” “Do not steal” and “Do not bear false witness”!!!
Maybe they’d be happy if it said, “Please kill, rob, and perjure yourselves as much as possible!”
Well, all too predictably, on August 5, a federal judge ordered Judge Moore to remove the monument within 15 days. Thank God he refused! But, unfortunately, that didn’t stop them from taking it out of the rotunda last Wednesday.
As I said a few moments ago, I e-mailed several friends earlier in the week asking them to support Judge Moore by signing an on-line petition, which was prepared by the American Family Association. Well, one of the women to whom I sent this e-mail proceeded to send it out to several of her friends. One of these friends (who, I later found out, is a professor at URI) wrote the following back to her—and to me:
“I would hope that the American Family Association would have more respect for the Bill of Rights and for the fact that religion has always been corrupted when it has received the kind of state support that is endorsed in this petition. I wouldn't want to live in Roy Moore's kind of
Once my blood pressure returned to normal, I wrote this back to Al:
I have a few questions for you:
Should they also remove two of the beautiful paintings which currently hang in the rotunda of the Capitol building in
Also, should they remove some of the 23 relief portraits which now hang above the gallery doors in the chambers of the
And how about the
Now I could have gone on with Al, but I didn’t need to.
Our founding fathers believed that religion had a very important role to play in the public life of this nation (and yes, they believed in the Ten Commandments!)—that’s why those paintings are in the capitol rotunda, and those relief portraits are in the House chambers, and why
The problem is there are now too many people in this country who believe something very different. They want, in effect, to create an atheistic, amoral
How providential it is that we have these 3 Scripture readings today. In the first, from Deuteronomy 4, Moses tells the people of
But, unfortunately, we have too many men and women in positions of authority right now who are just like the Pharisees. Once again, in today’s Gospel text from Mark 7, Jesus gives these religious leaders a piece of his mind—a very large piece of his mind! And why did Jesus do it? Because they were rationalizing away God’s commandments! Jesus says to them, “You disregard God’s commandment but cling to human tradition.” You see, instead of using their intelligence to encourage others to obey the Lord, these Pharisees did their best to come up with clever ways for people to disobey God with a “clear conscience.”
Sounds a lot like some liberal Catholic priests and some liberal Catholic politicians I know of!
St. James says to us today: “Be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deluding yourselves.” When it becomes a crime to display the Ten Commandments in a public building, then it’s clear to me that not enough Americans are interested in “doing the word” (that is to say, in being obedient to the moral law of God). Judge Roy Moore wants that to change, and so do I! For the sake of our nation’s future, I hope—and I pray!—that you do as well.