There were two major revolutions that took place at almost the exact same time: the French Revolution of 1789 and the American Revolution of 1776
BOTH revolutions had the same themes and goals, we could call them them “freedom” and “liberty”
But there was a major difference, the French Revolution was explicitly a secular one, and by secular we mean a sort of expelling of religion, a “non-religious” movement
The American Revolution, on the other hand, also seeking freedom and liberty, as is clear from even a brief reading of the documents of the founders, was a non-secular revolution. The American Revolution was one founded on a sort of “mere Christianity”, an experiment on whether or not a country could be founded on Christian principles without having to fly a specific denominational flag. All are created equal…endowed by their creator
Here’s the point of mentioning the two revolutions – we hear in the first reading a sort of prophecy: My house shall be called a house of prayer for ALL peoples.
This is a prophecy of the Church that Christ would found on Peter. The Church is a house of prayer for all peoples!
Christ promises (and in fact is Himself) freedom and liberty – and this promised freedom appeals to the woman in the Gospel – she senses already, even prior to the Church’s creation, that Christ brings into the lives of all people a freedom and liberty not found outside Him.
We’ve seen a lot in the news this week about racism in our country, and the Church stands up in the strongest possible terms and says this is wrong
At the core of the Church’s teaching on how we are to engage as a population is the idea that EVERY HUMAN BEING IS MADE IN THE IMAGE AND LIKENESS OF GOD and so there is an inherent human dignity to every person
The argument against the Church here is simple: people in the Church, people under the banner of Christ have not always honored the dignity of every human person
But the counterargument to that is “we are well aware of that, but even in the failings something is very fascinating…it is through the Church, through the Judeo-Christian tradition that we are able to most strongly CRITICIZE the failings of people from the past
Yes, women were not equal to men in 1776. Yes slavery remained after 1776, but those injustices were rooted out precisely by a deeper reflection on the Judeo Christian principles.
Some will say – “Look, we will acknowledge that Christianity took the ball and advanced it down the field; you all did A FEW decent things to get us here, but now we no longer need to have a society rooted in Judeo Christian principles…we are post-Christian now…we’ve moved on…we secularists will take things from here.”
That’s why the French Revolution is so important for us – because what we see when we look at the French Revolution that we did NOT see in the American Revolution is that in France, not long into the Revolution, a REALLY disturbing insanity set in, the guillotine killing thousands of people a day, a frenzied distrust of one another – the two revolutions could not have been, at the end of the day, more different.
And in the same way, people of all political persuasion, if they lack Christ, are left to try to rely on violence to drive out the opposition. Even the language that you hear in the rhetoric is so telling as people on both sides of the secular coin describing the other as “less than human”….the moment someone is “less than human” it becomes okay to do to them whatever you want to them.
Only Christ and His Church have the ability to unite ALL people
Those of our parish who were blessed to be on World Youth Day last summer and those of you who saw the pictures know this – as far as the eye could see there were people of every race and tribe and language nation joined in prayer, joined in candle light vigils, kneeling together in silence, receiving the same Eucharist
God’s house will be a house of prayer for all peoples. His Church is a house of prayer for all peoples. Trying to build a house for all peoples on any other foundation will NOT work. Just ask any secularist that has ever tried