"From within people, from their hearts, come evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, folly.
All these evils come from within and they defile." MK. 7:22-23
These words today ring out to us as a warning. Our great nation was founded by people who left the security of their homelands in Europe to establish a home where they would be free to worship and live their lives in religious freedom. They fought a war with England to create a free nation protecting the values they loved. The founding fathers wrote a Constitution that established a government of the people, by the people and for the people. In that Constitution, they limited the government’s power to ensure the liberty of its citizens.
Over the past fifty years, we have given up some of that freedom in order to gain security and comfort. Most Catholics have lost their understanding and zeal for our Catholic faith. Once, this church would have been filled with worshipers every Sunday at every Mass. Once All Catholics believed that Jesus is really present in the Holy Eucharist. Once, Catholics would have lined up on Saturday for the Sacrament of reconciliation. Once Catholics were recognized as being different from people of other faiths.
Now we are assimilated into the American Culture. Our divorce rate is the same as everyone else’s; our churches are perhaps half-filled each Sunday. Few people believe they need to go to confession even once a year, let alone every week or once a month. Some Catholics don’t even believe they are sinners. They choose to live their lives in their own way, picking and choosing what laws of God and the Church they want to follow.
I pray that we who are here today are not judged by what I have just described, but I am afraid that none of us, including me, is as faithful to Christ’s commands as we ought to be. I believe that this is why our nation and our faith are under attack and in danger of being lost. Now is the time for us to choose to renew our faith, to strive to become holy people once again by following the teachings of Christ. We can do this by again turning to the Scriptures each day, to hear and understand the word of God; by attending a Bible Study such as the one being offered here on Tuesday evenings or on Wednesday morning. We can deepen our Faith by watching or listening to Christian programs, such as EWTN; and praying as if our very existence depends on God, for indeed it does.
We can no longer be satisfied to attend Mass for forty-five minutes per week and think we have done our duty. We need to be Catholic 24/7. We need to speak out for the oppressed-- the homeless, the elderly, the poor, the unborn, the dispossessed. We need to pray daily for our leaders and all the leaders of the world, including those who wish us harm. We need to take an active part in the election system of our country- learning about the candidates, their positions on the issues, supporting those who are most in agreement with our values and working for their election and, of course, being registered and voting in November. If you are not part of the solution then you are part of the problem.
The Good News is that there is still hope for each of us and for our Country and our way of life. While many have given up on God, He certainly has not given up on us. While Christ chastised the Pharisees in today’s Gospel, He continued to challenge them and teach them. He even died for them and for all sinners. The way for us is clear in the Book of Deuteronomy. Deut.4:1-2
“Moses said to the people: ‘Now, Israel, hear the statutes and decrees which I am teaching you to observe, that you may live, and may enter in and take possession of the land which the LORD, the God of your fathers, is giving you.’”
In 2 Chronicals 7:14, we read:
“If My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”