Monday, October 3, 2016

THE PROPHETIC VOICE OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH AND THE DIGNITY OF THE HUMAN PERSON AND THE RIGHT TO LIFE

We live in an age that is filled with signs and wonders, many of which are ominous and terrifying—our economies continue in turmoil, wars and the fears of terrorism rage, our environment is being polluted in ways unseen before, our families, youth and societal institutions continue their collapse. Some people see these and try to discern their meaning. Others seem to hardly notice at all. The writer of the New Testament Letter to the Hebrews opens with verses that emphatically proclaim that God has spoken to us through His Son. We should listen:
“In many and various ways God spoke of old to our fathers by the prophets; but in these last days He has spoken to us by a Son, whom He appointed the heir of all things, through whom He also created the ages. He reflects the glory of God and bears the very stamp of His nature, upholding the universe by His word of power…” (Hebrews 1:1-3 RSV-CE).
God’s message is wonderful, loving, transforming and true; but it is not universally received.  It is a message that is timely and relevant to our lives today, as it has been in every age. Its import and urgency applies to each of us, no matter how young or old we are, whether single or married, rich or poor. We have been redeemed by our God Who became man.  He has made it possible for us to accept and receive His loving invitation to Communion with Him.  He has made it possible for us to attain the supernatural end for which we were created.
No message is more urgent and life-giving.  Listen to the Apostle Paul as he writes to the Romans and exhorts them to the new life in Christ:
“I appeal to you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world [age] but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:1-2).
Preceding this passage, Paul wrote movingly of the rejection by so many of the Jewish people of the Gospel of Christ. As with so many of the prophets sent by Almighty God to His people, Jesus and his message, were rejected by the people to whom it was first given and the consequences were disastrous for them. They were thinking, not like God does, but like men do. Paul suffers in his heart for these people… he cares deeply for them as he also cares for those who embraced the Gospel. So like the prophets before him, he tells them the truth that they need to hear and not the poisonous message of the popular culture that they might prefer.
What message do we open our minds and hearts to in our day? Do we listen to God as He speaks through the Church His Son established, or do we go our own way justifying our sin by our own distorted reasoning? St. Paul knows what we need to hear and he loves us enough to tell it to us straight, “Do not conform yourselves to this age.”
“Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord or who has been his counselor?” (Romans 11:32-33)