Sunday, September 27, 2015

Homily text and video: "Is Pope Francis Communist?"

The text I preached off of is a bit "outliney"

Pope Francis’s visit has been AWESOME!!!

If you’ve listened to all that he has had to say and nothing has given you something to work on, you haven’t been paying attention!

Pope Francis has noted many great things that Americans are doing and have been traditionally known for

He sees in our country a Church that, unlike the rest of the first world, actually still has a pulse

One of the things that he has challenged us ALL on is VERY relevant to the second reading today: “you have withheld the wages of your laborers and have lived a life of luxury”

Some have heard the Pope speak this week and have torn their garments in frustration – “This guy is such a Communist.  Why doesn’t he like capitalism?  Doesn’t he know that the way people get out of poverty is by companies providing jobs for people?

Point 1: what the Holy Father has said is the EXACT same thing that the Church has been saying, that Pope John Paul II was saying, that Pope Benedict was saying, etc. – capitalism has to be practiced with reference to the Truth – it doesn’t just work on its own without being informed by virtue.

Point 2: Communism didn’t take, including in South American countries, for no reason.  The industrial revolution began a new phase of human society, and industrialization has, from its beginnings, been a temptation to treat people like machines.  The Church has always warned and been very emphatic that this is a HORRIBLE INJUSTICE.  In fact, Catholic Social Teaching came out of the Church’s attempt to guide industrialization to be more just

Point 3: The Church has ALWAYS taught that Communism is intrinsically evil and always wrong.  It takes atheism as a starting point, so why would the Church ever advocate for it?  The Church, as almost everyone will tell you, brought down Communism in the late 80’s and early 90’s, although it will never be completely knocked out until the end of time

Point 4: There are not 3 options – Communism, Free market capitalism with no intervention, and a socialism that is a 50/50 split. 

Point 5: No system will save us.  Some systems are better than others, and what our economic system is and how it is structured matters a great deal, but we can’t pretend that once we get the laws right, the system will provide us with a utopia.  A system incorporates people, and so it also calls for ongoing vigilance – are we, at all levels, in my house, in my community, in my state, in my country – are things as just as they can be?  Am I behaving as justly as God is calling me to be?

So, let’s look at the reading from James. 

There are two types of sin according to Church teaching – mortal and venial.  Mortal sins are deadly and it is when a person actively and knowingly commits a grave sin that severs the person from God.  God does not stop loving them, but the person chooses to turn from God.

There are also venial sins, which are not deadly, but are still damaging to us

Within the set of mortal sins, however, there are 4 sins that CRY OUT TO HEAVEN FOR VENGEANCE – and one of them is what James mentions today – “withholding wages from laborers”

In a positive since the Church at Vatican II – “paying a person for their work should guarantee man the opportunity to provide a dignified livelihood for himself and his family on the material, social, cultural and spiritual level.” And
“Every person has the right to possess a sufficient amount of the earth’s goods for himself and his family.  We are bound to come to the aid of the poor and to do so not merely out of their superfluous goods.”

OBJECTION: This is redistribution of wealth – FALSE.  The Church says that welfare should always be a temporary thing for emergencies.

OBJECTION: Putting down business owners.  NOT AT ALL – the creation of jobs in the private sector is what makes America great – the work of so many business owners is celebrated and is obviously a good thing

Take off your Republican hat for a minute.  Take off your Democrat hat for a minute.  The Church’s message on this, Jesus’ message on this, James’ message on this challenges ALL OF US.  I should ask: “HOW DOES THIS TEACHING CHALLENGE ME?

If we’re still listening to James, the Church, Jesus, the Scriptures, the Popes, the 2nd Vatican Council, etc. what are we to do?

1)    I can’t go out and pay the migrant more…so I should do what Pope Francis said last night “Start with myself”

2)    Am I striving for simplicity?
a.     “If you make a man happier, it doesn’t matter if you also make him poorer”
b.   If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed than with two hands to go into Gehenna, into the unquenchable fire.  If materialism or consumerism is consuming you...CUT IT OFF.  Get rid of it!

3)    QUESTION: Can we do more locally?
a.     Is the lowest price always the best decision?
                                                                         i.      Not everyone can ask that question, but we can and we should
b.     Just because the sticker price of something is lower, does that mean it is right?
c.      Who makes me clothes, my shoes, my coffee, who harvests the food I eat?  If I buy something online or at a store, where does that money go? – be informed and realize that buying has consequences

4)    After starting with me I need to move to systemic questions, questions about the larger systems I’m a part of. 
a.     is greed the right thing to base our economy on?
b.     “The way you can fix the economy is by buying more things?”
c.      Does our economy reference the Truth? 
d.     What is it built on?  If it is built on the wrong principles, it will fall

“Behold, the wages you withheld from the workers who harvested your fields are crying aloud; and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts.”  May we work continuously to see that our economy is as just as it possibly can be, and that all are able to receive that which justice demands – a job to sustain their family and provide for themselves and their families food, shelter, clothing and the basic necessities of life.  May this continual spirit of improvement, done out of love for our neighbor, start with me.

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