October 7, 2012 - Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

Genesis 2:18-24
Psalm 128:1-6
Hebrews 2:9-11
Mark 10:2-16

So the election is in less than a month. Let me begin by saying what I am not going to say: I am not going to tell you who to vote for. When I was ordained, the bishop handed me the book of the Gospels and he said, “Receive the Gospel of Christ, whose herald you have become. Believe what you read, teach what you believe, practice what you teach.” That is why I am called to do, and nowhere in the Gospels does it specify who you should vote for. I suppose in order for me to say that, there would have to be somebody on the ballot who perfectly exemplified the Gospel like Jesus or Mary. If they were running, I would endorse them. I am also not going to talk about a specific issue, like what the capital gains tax rate should be. First of all, because I have no idea. Secondly, because it does not say anywhere in the Gospel what it should be. It does say to pay your taxes, and it says to take care of the poor, but it is for the experts to determine how to apply these principles into specific laws.

But then, in this Gospel today, there is an issue. It is right here, and those of you who know how this works, know that it is not as if we choose the readings each week and read whatever we feel like. It says right here: the 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time, year B, which happens to be this Sunday in this year. It is a cycle, and we flip to this page, and it is time to read this reading. It is not as if we wanted to talk about marriage this weekend, but God in his wisdom, in the cycle given to us by the Church, has given this to us, and I would be remiss if I read this reading without talking about marriage. I would be failing in my mandate, if we did not talk about it.

But it is very difficult. Just last Sunday someone told me that they have two nephews who are both gay, and “God doesn't make trash.” That is so true. He does not. Every single person is a child of God. Everyone is loved by God, and therefore has a right to our love. If it seems as if anything the Catholic Church has ever said suggests that we think that people are trash, then we are saying it wrong or people are hearing it wrong somehow. Hatred of people is not the truth.

Nevertheless, we have to be faithful to the truth. There are some obvious truths. I am not talking about political opinions. I mean obvious, factual, indisputable truths: male and female go together in a way that male and male do not. This is indisputable. If anyone disagrees, they are lying to themselves. I am not saying yet where to go with that; I am just saying that we should begin with the truth, because if we do not begin with the truth, where are we going to end up? Another indisputable truth is that the foundation of marriage is sex. That is not all marriage is, but I am not married to my best friend; I am not married to someone I like to go on vacation with. What makes people married is that act that only a man and a woman can do, and the children that come from it.

We start with these two truths, and we come to the indisputable truth that marriage is for male and female. As Jesus says in the Gospel today, “In the beginning God made them male and female.” So, on some level the ballot question that is before you this November is asking whether to two plus two equals four. We have to say yes. Whether marriage is between a male and female is not a matter of opinion. It is obvious, biological fact.

Still, something stops us, because even though two plus two equals four, when I see a person made in the image of God, who am I to tell them what to do? Why complicate the Gospel that we preach with this question? I know that two plus two equals four, but they think it is five, and if they want to, then they can, right? I think that this is where a lot of people are right now. Even though the truth is obvious, there is a desire to simply say, “Well, whatever!” When I think of the time and energy and money we have spent on this question, particularly this year, I realize that it could have just been spent on telling people that Jesus loves them, which people like to hear.

But this is what Jesus is saying in the Gospel today. You cannot just say something is okay even if it is wrong. Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, and the life. We have to stay with the truth. When asked a fundamental question about truth, we have to acknowledge the truth. Jesus says today that when Moses was writing the law, he set up some rules for divorce. Why did he do that? Jesus says that it was because of the hardness of their hearts, because Moses knew that the people would not accept a law that simply forbid divorce, so he wrote some laws about divorce, such as a man cannot just abandon the woman and have her starve to death, which is what would have happened in that culture; he has to provide for her in certain ways. There is a certain wisdom to these laws, but now Jesus has come and it is time for the truth. The truth is that there is no divorce, and that is a hard truth. What God has joined together no human being should separate. It is more complicated. We have to know first what God has joined together, the question of annulments, but if we do not start with the truth, where are we going to end up? In this election year, I do not care who you vote for. That is for you to decide. There are complications about this person and that person, what they support, what they support. But when you get to that last question, and it says, “Is Marriage a relationship between a man and a woman?”, you have to answer yes. What can you put there other than the truth?