In the early 2000’s when I was in the seminary, several seminarians and myself were big sports fans, and any time we learned a sports star or celebrity was Catholic, we would get especially excited. “look it is one of us performing on a national stage.” But 15 years later it doesn’t matter to me in the least. Last week, as we learned that Simone Biles, a Catholic and the best gymnast in the history of the sport, came out in support of abortion, I wish I could say I was disappointed, but in all reality, I had stopped caring about Catholic celebrities 4 or 5 years ago, particularly now when America seems to be circling the drain.
In our first reading we hear Joshua draw a line in the sand. It has gotten to the breaking point where a decision needs to be made, and there are only 2 options
“If it does not please you to serve the LORD, decide today whom you will serve… As for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”
In almost the exact same way, our Gospel today presents a very similar scenario. There is, at this point, no middle road. There are only 2 options. Either believe or not. Many of Jesus’ disciples who were listening said, “This saying is hard; who can accept it?”… As a result of this, many of his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him.”
And fast forwarding to our own day, after centuries of being able to straddle the line and be both a member of American culture AND a good Catholic, we face a decisive point where we only have 2 options.
Only 27 VERSES into the Bible we read “God created mankind in his image; in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God blessed them and God said to them: Be fertile and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it.”
Jesus in 2 different Gospels references this exact quote from Genesis. And Saint Paul mentions it in today’s 2nd reading.
Today our American culture believes there is no God because “science says so”, persons are NOT made in the image and likeness of God, marriage is simply a contract between 2 persons that can be severed at any point without question, and in some states it is legal to marry your dog or yourself. Male and female are simply constructs that can be disregarded, marital relations need not be open to life, we have completely trashed our environment and been awful stewards of the resources entrusted to us by God. And we are on pace for about 1.5 million abortions this year, and at least since 2015, some of those aborted children have had organs harvested and paid for by our government and grafted on to mice for medical research. Pope Francis in Laudato Si showed how all these issues are related.
Today, Catholics can expect absolutely zero accommodation anymore from American Western Culture. There is no safe space for Catholics. Like the Israelites in the First reading, and like those following Jesus in the Gospel, we face a decision point – will we serve the Lord Jesus Christ and the Catholic Church that He established, or will we serve the culture of death? There is no middle ground today in America. “As for me and my parishes, we will serve the Lord.”