We are initiating a new Liturgical Year. We are also initiating a new cycle of biblical readings in the Mass. This year we will explore the Gospel of Mark, which may have been one of the first Gospels written, shortly before the year 70 AD, probably in Rome.
Mark gets right down to business in the first chapter. Jesus had already been baptized by John in the Jordan. John has been arrested. We heard that,
After John had been arrested,
Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the gospel of God:
“This is the time of fulfillment.
The kingdom of God is at hand.
Repent, and believe in the gospel.”
In one of my recent homilies I spoke to you about the Christian character of our universal calendar. Jesus is the center of time. He came at the time of fulfillment. There is the time before the birth of Jesus Christ, and the time after. The time before Jesus we traditionally call “B.C.” or before Christ, in all our calendars and literature. The time after we traditionally call “Anno Domini”, Latin for “Year of our Lord”, or A.D. We are now in the “Year of our Lord 2012”.
In the time before Jesus, the centuries we designate as “B.C.”, the world was dominated by death. All men were ruled by death. There was no hope of escaping death. If you read ancient literature written before the time of Jesus, you see a certain melancholy, not hope. Life was not a source of joy, but sadness. No religion offered hope. The only hope after a life of toil and suffering was death. Death ruled. Everything ended in death.
I spoke to you that God did not create death, and God did not create sin. Adam and Eve, our first parents were created as the first humans, who were orginally created to live eternally with God. However, they rebelled against God when they sinned. They disobeyed God, and they lost his friendship. They wanted to be like God, but without God. They were the ones who hid in the Garden from God. God did not hide himself from them. Without God, they could not live forever. Eternal life can only exist in the presence of the eternal God. They separated from God. They died. They could not give eternal life to their children because they had lost it. They could not pass on what they didn’t have – eternal life. Their children died. We call this “Original Sin”.
This was the world before Jesus. Death ruled. Death was always the Victor! Eternal life was unknown.
When Jesus came he proclaimed,
“This is the time of fulfillment.
The kingdom of God is at hand.
Time had changed. The “time of fulfillment” brought the hope of eternal life. Death lost its power. St. Paul would say,
“Death is swallowed up in victory.
Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?” (1Cor 15:54-55)
How could we experience the Kingdom of God? Was it automatic? What did we have to do?
Repent, and believe in the gospel.
At that time the New Testament still did not exist in written form. The term “Gospel” is an English translation of a Greek word that denotes the good tidings of salvation announced to the world in connection with Jesus Christ, and, in a more general way, the whole revelation of Redemption by Christ. We were created in the image of God. Jesus came to reclaim us for God from the world and from death. Later he would say we had to be baptized by water and the Spirit. Baptism would wash away our Original Sin so we could be free to live forever. But we would have to repent.
What is the greatest sin of our generation? When you drove into the Church parking lot did you see the
“CEMETERY OF THE INNOCENTS”?
And the sign that states that
EACH CROSS IS A BABY KILLED BY ABORTION EVERY HOUR IN AMERICA: TOTAL BABIES KILLED PER DAY = 3,700
Members of our parish Pro Life ministry installed it Saturday morning. Soon we will have the Project Gabriel signs mounted out on the main street in front of the Church.
We aren’t just Pro-Life in word only. We are not just against abortion. Volunteers with our Project Gabriel will be available seven days a week to work with women with crisis pregnancies. Our parish will support them through their pregnancies and beyond. Our Diocese has numerous resources to help women and children in need, including Marywood, a 90-year-old adoption agency based in Austin. We are pro-life. We want all God’s children to have the opportunity to be baptized and to live in the Kingdom of God. Our goal is to save every child from abortion, one child at a time.
When God created each of us, he gave us our souls at the moment of conception. For many this is an inconvenient truth, but the Church has always taught this. We all have souls. We received them at our conception. Every child killed in the womb is a murder victim. Afterward, there is usually no one to pray for them or for their eternal salvation. They will not be baptized.
Abortion is the scourge of our time. Abortion can only exist in a culture of death, like “B.C.”, the time before the coming of Christ. The sad thing is that between 30% and 40% of women will have an abortion before they are 45 years old. This is the “elephant in the room”! Today, about 30% of all women having abortions are Catholic. Abortion devastates life. It kills the baby. These babies will not be baptized.
Abortion often destroys the woman. Many men who facilitate the abortion are also devastated for life. I know. I hear their confessions. I am not breaking the seal of confession. These stories are published. One woman wrote, “I just wanted the abortion to make the pregnancy go away. Instead, it made me the mother of a dead baby.”
Often I find myself counseling these women and I will ask them, “Have you given your baby a name?” This is often a breakthrough moment for them to begin to heal. Many are so devastated that they cannot forgive themselves. I will say to them, “Give the child a name! Who gives a child its name, if not Momma? Pray for these children! Ask them for forgiveness! Ask God to take them into heaven. Ask to be reunited with them and all your children when you come into heaven.”
Here is another piece of information that should concern us all. On Friday, Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan of New York, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), sharply criticized the decision by the Obama administration in which it “ordered almost every employer and insurer in the country to provide sterilization and contraceptives, including some abortion-inducing drugs, in their health plans.” This is now our national insurance program, and all of us must pay for it.
“Never before has the federal government forced individuals and organizations to go out into the marketplace and buy a product that violates their conscience. This shouldn’t happen in a land where free exercise of religion ranks first in the Bill of Rights,” Cardinal-designate Dolan said.
“The Kingdom of God is at hand.” Since the coming of Jesus, Death does not have to rule. We don’t have to live in a culture of death, in “B.C.” Pray for those children, victims of abortion. Pray for their mothers and fathers. Pray for a time of fulfillment for them. Pray for our nation. Pray for a time of repentance of our greatest national sin.
Repent, and believe in the gospel!