Saturday, June 25, 2011

More on marriage

The head of St. John the Baptist
For Herod had seized John and bound him and put him in prison, for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip's wife; because John said to him, "It is not lawful for you to have her."

And though he wanted to put him to death, he feared the people, because they held him to be a prophet. But when Herod's birthday came, the daughter of Herodias danced before the company, and pleased Herod, so that he promised with an oath to give her whatever she might ask.

Prompted by her mother, she said, "Give me the head of John the Baptist here on a platter." And the king was sorry; but because of his oaths and his guests he commanded it to be given; he sent and had John beheaded in the prison, and his head was brought on a platter and given to the girl, and she brought it to her mother.

 – Matthew 14:3-11
I suppose it is appropriate that the "homosexual marriage" law passed in New York on the feast of St. John the Baptist. The price John the Baptist paid for defending the sanctity of marriage was his head. What price are today's Christians willing to pay to denounce this abomination to God? Will you give up your job or your business to defend the principle of marriage between one man and one woman? Are you willing to face public ridicule and persecution? How will you protect your children from the onslaught of vicious propaganda from the public school system in favor of "homosexual marriage" and against Christianity?

Adults, who should know better, are failing in their duty to protect children. Homosexuality is not just a mirror of the love between a man and a woman, except between the same sexes. Homosexuality is an expression of a creed that says sex should be a goal in itself, and that we should follow our passions wherever they lead. This same hedonist creed finds expression in non-marital heterosexual relations which have gained acceptance in our society.

The Catholic Church rejects this creed. Christian men and women should have as their goal to master their passions. Surely, we don't always succeed. This does not automatically make us hypocrites. If we approach God in true humility and with full regret for our actions, then He will always forgive us. This is His promise, the covenant He made with us through Christ's sacrifice on the Cross.

This week also marked the day that the Church remembers the death of St. Thomas More. He was beheaded by order of King Henry VIII in 1535. His head was put on public display on London Bridge. His crime was the same as that of St. John the Baptist, the defense of the sanctity of marriage. His defense was that the King's actions were contrary “to the laws of God and his holy Church.” Henry VIII broke off with the Roman Catholic Church as a result of the issue of the sanctity of marriage. This was the start of protestantism in England. It was born in a lust filled bed. This is a historical fact which cannot be denied.

Today the Christian church is being further divided over the issue of the sanctity of marriage. Some are willing to go along with the dictates of the culture. This has always been true. Didn't the Hebrew prophets condemn the ancient Israelites for their worship of local gods?

When Jesus heard of the death of John the Baptist, the Gospel of Matthew tells us that He departed to "a lonely place apart". But He was not able to be in solitude in this moment of grief because "when the crowds heard it, they followed Him". The response of Jesus was to perform the miracle of the loaves and the fishes, because "he had compassion" on the people.
Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a lonely place apart. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. As he went ashore he saw a great throng; and he had compassion on them, and healed their sick.

When it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, "This is a lonely place, and the day is now over; send the crowds away to go into the villages and buy food for themselves." Jesus said, "They need not go away; you give them something to eat." They said to him, "We have only five loaves here and two fish." And he said, "Bring them here to me."

Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass; and taking the five loaves and the two fish he looked up to heaven, and blessed, and broke and gave the loaves to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up twelve baskets full of the broken pieces left over. And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children.

 – Matthew 14:13-21
That evening He went "up on the mountain by himself to pray". But again His solitude was interrupted when a storm arose and threatened his disciples which were in a boat attempting to cross the nearby sea. Again, Jesus had compassion and walked out on the water towards the boat in order to rescue them. But when they saw Him they thought it was a ghost and cried out in fear.
Then he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but the boat by this time was many furlongs distant from the land, beaten by the waves; for the wind was against them. And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, saying, "It is a ghost!" And they cried out for fear.
 – Matthew 14:22-26
Jesus showed compassion for His followers after the tragedy of the death of St. John the Baptist. He comforted them and reassured them by saying, "Take heart, it is I; have no fear." But He also chastised them saying "O man of little faith, why did you doubt?"
But immediately he spoke to them, saying, "Take heart, it is I; have no fear." And Peter answered him, "Lord, if it is you, bid me come to you on the water." He said, "Come."

So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus; but when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, "Lord, save me."

Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, "O man of little faith, why did you doubt?" And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased.

 – Matthew 14:27-32
What I want to say is that following the tragic death of John the Baptist, Jesus performed some of His greatest miracles. So at times like these, we should not be afraid or dejected. We should have faith and expect a miracle. Jesus frequently tests our faith before showing His compassion. This is how we grow ever stronger in our faith.
And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, "Truly you are the Son of God."
 – Matthew 14:33


  1. Here is the "Statement of the New York State Catholic Conference on pending vote on same-sex 'marriage' ":

    "The Bishops of New York State oppose in the strongest possible terms any attempt to redefine the sacred institution of marriage. The matter of religious exemptions has been and continues to be a secondary issue that in no way negates the fact that this bill is bad for society. We urge all Senators to vote no on Governor Cuomo's bill. Marriage has always been, is now, and always will be the union of one man and one woman in a lifelong, life-giving union. Government does not have the authority to change this most basic of truths."

    This is a great and forceful statement from the bishops of New York, but why did it take until Thursday, June 24, to release such a statement?

    With all due respect, I believe that Archbishop Dolan failed in his duty to unequivocally defend the Church's position on marriage. We cannot play politics with the truth. I hope this is a lesson that has been learned by the Catholic Church in America through this tragic sequence of events. What will be the Church's response now to Governor Cuomo? Will it use its authority to at least prohibit him from receiving communion?

  2. Thomas Peters - the American Papist - has written an excellent summary of the ongoing battle in defense of marriage in the United States. He points out that prior to this defeat in New York, there have been many victories in other states:
    In NY, A (Temporary) Setback for Marriage

  3. The Catholic bishops of New York have come out with a statement in response to the passing of the "homosexual marriage" bill. I find its tone to be defeatist. And I don't like that it portrays the Church as a victim. Where is the faith in Jesus Christ that this temporary defeat will be overcome? In fact the statement calls this a permanent defeat by using the terms "radically and forever". So are the bishops saying that they have given up fighting this? What about appealing to a referendum, or electing representatives that will overturn this bill?

    And on top of that, this statement is poorly worded and just plain awkward. Don't they have anyone with the writing skills to edit such an important statement? Was this some sort of compromise resolution because some bishops are actually in favor of legalizing "homosexual marriage"?

    Here is the full "Statement of the Bishops of NYS on same-sex 'marriage' vote":

    The passage by the Legislature of a bill to alter radically and forever humanity’s historic understanding of marriage leaves us deeply disappointed and troubled.

    We strongly uphold the Catholic Church’s clear teaching that we always treat our homosexual brothers and sisters with respect, dignity and love. But we just as strongly affirm that marriage is the joining of one man and one woman in a lifelong, loving union that is open to children, ordered for the good of those children and the spouses themselves. This definition cannot change, though we realize that our beliefs about the nature of marriage will continue to be ridiculed, and that some will even now attempt to enact government sanctions against churches and religious organizations that preach these timeless truths.

    We worry that both marriage and the family will be undermined by this tragic presumption of government in passing this legislation that attempts to redefine these cornerstones of civilization.

    Our society must regain what it appears to have lost – a true understanding of the meaning and the place of marriage, as revealed by God, grounded in nature, and respected by America’s foundational principles.