09 October 2022

Homily - 9 October 2022 - The Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Dear brothers and sisters,

The Psalmist today reminds us that “the Lord has made his salvation known: in the sight of the nations he has revealed his justice” (Psalm 98:2). There is, then, a connection between salvation and justice, but what is this connection? Perhaps more fundamentally, what do we mean when we speak of God’s salvation and of his justice?

The first thing we can say about God’s salvation is that it began, of course, with the people of Israel, which is why the Psalmist sings, “He has remembered his kindness and his faithfulness toward the house of Israel” (Psalm 98:3).

The second thing we can say about God’s salvation is that it is universal,

but it passes through a specific historical mediation, the mediation of the people of Israel, which goes on to become that of Jesus Christ and the Church. The door of life is open for everyone, but this is the point, it is a "door", that is, a definite and necessary passage. This is summed up in the Pauline formula we heard in the Second Letter to Timothy: "the salvation in Christ Jesus" (II Timothy 2:10)… God is love and wants all men to be part of His life; to carry out this plan He, who is Triune, creates in the world a mystery of a communion that is human and divine, historical and transcendent: He creates it with the method so to speak of the Covenant, tying himself to men with faithful and inexhaustible love, forming a holy people, that becomes a blessing for all the families of the earth (cf. Genesis 12:13).[1]

This is what we call the economy of salvation, the means throughout time by which God has chosen to redeem us, forgive us, and restore us to everlasting friendship in his presence.

The third thing we can say about the salvation of God is that it can be lost; God’s restorative and merciful forgiveness can be refused. We see an example of a rejection of the healing of God in Naaman’s initial refusal to follow the command of God given through his prophet Elisha (cf. II Kings 5:11).

What, then, can we say of God’s justice? The first thing we can say is what Saint Thomas Aquinas says, namely, that “in God, power, essence, will, intellect, wisdom, and justice are all identical.”[2] Indeed, whatever attribute we can find in the Godhead is identical with any other attribute we can find in the Trinity. His goodness is his beauty; his mercy is his justice.

The second thing we can say here is that God not only is justice, but that God creates justice, the virtue of giving to each person what is due to him or her. Just as our civil courts seek to do justice – at least in theory – to each person according to what he or she has done, so will God mete out justice to each of us at the end of our lives. We know that “faith in Christ has never looked merely backwards or merely upwards, but always also forwards to the hour of justice that the Lord repeatedly proclaimed.”[3]

The fact of the Last Judgment, in which the salvation of God is known in the demonstration of his mercy and his justice, makes clear that 


the way we live our lives is not immaterial, but our defilement does not stain us for ever if we have at least continued to reach out towards Christ, towards truth and towards love. Indeed, it has already been burned away through Christ's Passion. At the moment of judgment we experience and we absorb the overwhelming power of his love over all the evil in the world and in ourselves. The pain of love becomes our salvation and our joy.[4]

The mercy and justice of God are brought together in the Cross of Jesus Christ through which we receive the salvation of God. Please bear with me now for a few moments as I pivot my thoughts; I promise we will return to the question of God’s salvation and justice.

Last Sunday, as we entered into this Respect Life Month, I reminded you of the painfully sad statistic that in Illinois in 2020 the lives of 46,243 unborn babies were intentionally ended in their mothers’ wombs, in that very place which should be the safest place for any child on earth[5]. I reminded you that this number is very likely only to increase as neighboring states continue to either restrict or to ban abortion. Consequently, we must step up our efforts to end the barbaric and inhuman scourge of abortion in this Land of Lincoln.

I mention this again today because yesterday afternoon I saw something in my hometown that would have been inconceivable a few years ago and even last year: a group of about twenty women standing along the principle street protesting the recent Supreme Court decision Dobbs v. Jackson. With this decision, the Justices returned the question of the legality of abortion to the State legislatures, where, constitutionally, it should have remained all along. (Here we must remember not everything that is legal is moral.)

Many people do not understand what the Dobbs v. Jackson decision said, which is why those women were holding the usual lame euphemistic signs saying such laughable things as, “Keep your rosaries off my ovaries” and “Stay out of my womb.” I have never considered putting my rosary on any woman’s ovaries, and, frankly, I have no idea how I would do so even if I wanted to. The only womb I have ever been in is that of my mother (and that was forty-four years ago). Those women seemingly do not know what the law is in Illinois regarding abortion.

Putting humor aside, my heart broke for these women and tears filled my eyes as I drove past them because in their refusal to live in accordance with their bodies – in violation of the evident will of the Creator - they are placing their salvation at risk by challenging God’s justice for the innocent. Their hearts are filled with that “pride and selfishness that spawn indifference, hatred and violence in the human soul. No one, save God who is Love, can heal this leprosy of the spirit which scars the face of humanity.”[6]

For those who kill the innocent and for those who advocate the killing of the innocent, God’s justice will be revealed on the Last Day. For those who repent of such unjust acts against the innocent, God’s salvation will be revealed on the Last Day. You and I must do what we can to help those who advocate for abortion and who participate in abortion to see the error of their ways and beg the Lord to bring to repentance and conversion of heart; we must do so with gentleness, with honesty, and with genuine concern for the salvation of their souls.

One of the ways we can help in this effort, is to counter their arguments and correct their errors. At this moment in history, chief among their arguments is that we only care about the unborn child and not about the mother or what happens to either of them after the child is born. This, of course, is an unfounded claim, but if we are to convincingly refute it, we must be able to demonstrate our concern for the mother and her child in concrete ways. This is why I have resolved to make an ongoing monthly gift to First Step Women’s Center in Springfield because I know they will use it well to provide for mothers in difficult situations.

What is it that you can do? Perhaps you can volunteer to drive a woman to appointments with her doctors or to school or to work. Perhaps you can offer to watch her child while she cleans her home or goes to work or even takes a much-needed break. Perhaps you can offer to build something her home needs or to mow her lawn or shovel her drive. Perhaps you have a spare room that would be suitable for a young mother and her infant who has nowhere else to go.

These are all ways each of us can show our love not only for unborn children, but also for their mothers and for them as they grow older; they are also ways that you and I can become expressions of the mercy of God. Perhaps, by God’s grace and through our loving examples, we can lead those who advocate for abortion on demand to turn to Jesus, the healer of souls, to ask for his salvation and forgiveness. If they do, they will break out in song because “all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation by our God” and their heavy hearts will become light (Psalm 98:3). Amen.

[1] Pope Benedict XVI, Homily, 10 October 2010.

[2] Saint Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, I, 25, 5, ad. 1.

[3] Pope Benedict XVI, Spe salvi, 41.

[4] Pope Benedict XVI, Spe salvi, 47.

[5] Illinois Department of Public Health, “Abortion Statistics.” Accessed 1 October 2022. Available at https://dph.illinois.gov/data-statistics/vital-statistics/abortion-statistics.html.

[6] Pope Benedict XVI, Angelus Address, 14 October 2007.

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