Sunday, January 09, 2005

Our Baptismal Mission

(Baptism of the Lord (A): This homily was given on January 9, 2005 at St. Pius X Church, Westerly, R.I. Read Acts 10: 34-38; Matthew 3: 13-17.)

[For the audio version of this homily, click here: Baptism of the Lord 2005]

When I checked my e-mail one day last week I came across a letter entitled, “Fuming mad.” With that title, I couldn’t wait to open it! It was from a doctor in the parish, and here’s what she wrote:

“I plan to be at youth group next Thursday and I have a special request. Can we please discuss that pervert Alfred Kinsey? The movie review of the ‘good doctor's’ biography is in today's Providence Journal. The kids should be quite clear about the lies this guy passed off as science, not to mention the hideous sexual crimes he directed against children all in the name of ‘science’.”

I thought that was a very good suggestion; consequently that’s exactly what we did this past Thursday night with our teenagers. We gave them the “real scoop” on Dr. Kinsey, the highly-praised sex-researcher who in many ways paved the way for the sexual revolution of the last 40 years.

“Fr. Ray, what does this have to do with the baptism of Jesus Christ in the Jordan River by John the Baptist 2000 years ago?”

The answer is: It has a lot to do with it!

The moment Jesus was baptized was the moment his 3-year earthly ministry officially began.

And what was the purpose of his ministry? What was his mission?

Part of the answer to that question is given to us in today’s second reading from Acts 10. In that text St. Peter says (and here I’m using the older translation of the passage): “I take it you know what has been reported all over Judea about Jesus of Nazareth, beginning in Galilee with the baptism John preached; of the way God anointed him with the Holy Spirit and power. He went about doing good works and healing all who were in the grip of the devil, and God was with him.”

That’s where today’s second reading ends. But in the very next verse Peter goes on to say, “We are witnesses to all [that this Jesus] did in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They killed him finally, hanging him on a tree, only to have God raise him up on the third day . . .”

The purpose of Jesus’ ministry—his mission, according to St. Peter—was to do good, and, most importantly, to free people from the grip of the devil. That “grip” comes from sin, and it ultimately leads to hell. Which is precisely why Peter mentions Jesus’ death and resurrection in the very next line! We are delivered from the devil’s grip—here and in the life to come—through the events of Good Friday and Easter Sunday.

Just before he died on the cross, our Lord said, “It is finished.” If he had wanted to he could have said, “Mission accomplished; my ministry is now fulfilled,” and it would have had the same meaning.

And yet, in spite of all this, there is still something incomplete about Jesus’ mission, is there not?

Yes, salvation has been attained for the human race, in the sense that every person can be saved by the blood of Christ; everyone has the potential to receive sanctifying grace and forgiveness for their sins.

But that grace still must be applied to individual souls! Jesus fulfilled his earthly mission and won the grace of salvation for us, but now that grace has to be applied to you and to me and to all those out there in the world.

And that’s where we come into the picture. As Jesus’ disciples, we have a responsibility to continue his mission by bringing souls to him so that they can experience redemption.

This is part of our mission in this life—a mission that’s rooted in our baptism!

You see, when we’re baptized as Catholic Christians, we aren’t just baptized for our own benefit. Yes, we’re born again; yes, we’re forgiven; yes, we receive sanctifying grace and become members of the Church and heirs to the kingdom of heaven. But if we actually intend to enter that kingdom at the end of our lives here on earth, we need to take seriously our baptismal responsibility to evangelize others.

The new Catechism reminds us of this requirement in paragraph 1270. There it says, “Reborn as sons of God, [the baptized] must profess before men the faith they have received from God through the Church and participate in the apostolic and missionary activity of the People of God.”

This is one reason why I deal with a lot of current events and issues in my homilies. I consider it my responsibility as your pastor to help you know the truth of Christ, and how that truth applies to what’s going on in the world right now, so that you can go out there and defend and spread the faith—which is your baptismal responsibility!

Which brings us back to Dr. Kinsey. (No, I didn’t forget about him.) As is the case with Hugh Hefner and Margaret Sanger (the founder of Planned Parenthood), Alfred Kinsey has been turned into a big hero by the modern-day promoters of the sexual revolution (such as the people who made this new movie about him starring Liam Neeson that came out a few weeks ago).

In today’s world, if you’re going to fulfill your baptismal mission and bring other people to Jesus Christ, you need to know the truth about Alfred Kinsey and others like him. You have to be able to help men and women understand why they should listen to Jesus and the Church—rather than Kinsey, Sanger and Hefner—when it comes to matters of sexual morality.

The doctor who wrote me that e-mail understands this quite well. That’s why she wanted me to address the topic with the teenagers. She wanted me to enlighten them on the real Alfred Kinsey, so that they can be better defenders and promoters of the truth of Christ. After all, those teens have the same baptismal responsibility that the rest of us do.

On that note, here are some of the real facts about Kinsey that I shared with them the other night. You’re not likely to hear any of these from people in the liberal media. Believe it or not, I’ve out some of the more disgusting ones:

1. Kinsey compiled statistics of “normal” sexual behavior by including a high percentage of pedophiles, inmates, sex offenders, pimps and prostitutes and described them as “average” Americans. [And you wonder why he classified so many perverted acts as “normal”?] He kept no records that could corroborate his findings.

2. The Kinsey data are the scientific basis for the Model Penal Code, which led to the elimination, or reduction in penalties for sex offenses, including rape, child abuse and prostitution.

3. Kinsey’s data are also the basis for most of America’s sex education curricula, which begin with the premise that children are “sexual beings” entitled to sex at all ages.

4. He believed that all sexual behaviors were “natural,” including bestiality, pedophilia, homosexuality, sodomy, and sadistic sex. He argued that sex and morality had no connection. (Source: Concerned Women for America web site:

By the way, there’s also evidence that Kinsey sanctioned sexual experiments on children. Bet that isn’t in this new movie! The same media people who bashed the Church for her scandals a few years ago are completely silent on this matter. According to Dr. Judith Reisman—who’s done extensive research on the issue—Alfred Kinsey allowed hundreds (and perhaps even thousands) of children to be abused in obtaining information for his “scientific” reports.

If a committed Catholic knows these facts about Alfred Kinsey—a man who is extolled in our secular society—he will have a much easier time making the case for chastity. That should be obvious. If you can show somebody that one of the founders of the sexual revolution was a “sexually-confused, dishonest, voyeuristic pedophile-advocate” (as one web site called him), you’ll have a much easier time getting them to see that the teachings of the Catholic Church on sexuality make a lot of sense.

In fact, the more you know the truth about any of the hot-button issues of our time—abortion, stem cell research, etc.—the more reasonable and rational the “old fashioned” Gospel becomes.

And helping people to see the reasonableness of the Gospel, is a real help in bringing them closer to Christ and the Church; it’s a key to evangelizing them in today’s scientific culture.

In the final verse of the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus says, “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations. Baptize them in the name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit. And teach them to carry out all that I have commanded you.”

We are all called to teach others the truth of Jesus Christ—first and foremost by what we do, but also by what we say. That’s part of our baptismal mission. May the Lord help us to do it well, so that at the moment of our death we will be able to say what Jesus could have said on Good Friday: “Mission accomplished!”