29th Sunday in Ordinary Time
In the midst of this polarizing and in many ways repulsive election season, the Church has a campaign slogan of her own, and it’s announced in the opening prayer of today’s Mass: “that we may always conform our will to yours”. That puts God first, and it’s not what we’re hearing from all the election ads. They all have more or less the same theme: “that you may conform your will to mine”, and give me your vote.
Well, the Church says, not so fast. Does your will conform to God’s, as known from the sacred Scriptures? “All Scripture is inspired by God, and is useful for teaching, for refutation, for correction, and for training in righteousness”. There will be times when you will need to refute and correct. There is even, as Ecclesiastes puts it, “a time for war”.
This is nothing new for the people of God. In the first sentence of the first reading, we are told that “Amalek came and waged war against Israel”. In a verse omitted from the present selection, Scripture adds, “The Lord will have war with Amalek from generation to generation” (Exodus 17:16). In other words, in every generation there will be Amalekites at war with the people of God.
In our generation, the Amalekites are the “dishonest judges” of the Supreme Court and the secular elites of our political and cultural institutions. In 1973, the Supreme Court found a “right to an abortion” in the Constitution (where no such right exists) and instantly struck down anti-abortion laws passed by the people in all 50 states.
The position of the Catholic Church on that is that any law legalizing the killing of an unborn child is an unjust law that violates the natural law and is, therefore, no law at all. In Evangelium Vitae, St John Paul II declared that abortion “is the deliberate killing of an innocent human being. This doctrine is based upon the natural law and upon the written Word of God”.
Hillary Clinton will have none of this. In a speech delivered in April of 2015 at the Women’s World Summit in New York, she made this breathtaking statement: “Laws have to be backed up with resources and political will. And deep-seated religious beliefs have to be changed”. She makes no distinction between just and unjust laws: if your religious beliefs conflict with any law, your beliefs will have to be changed.
St John Paul II, as might be expected, is clear about the Church’s position: “In the case of an intrinsically unjust law, such as a law permitting abortion or euthanasia, it is therefore never licit to obey it, or to take part in a propaganda campaign in favor of such a law, or vote for it”. St Paul in the second reading adds: “proclaim the word; be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient; convince, reprimand, encourage through all patience and teaching”.
Yet in this battle with the Amalekites of death, it is not only the Joshuas who are needed, people who will go on protest marches and vote for pro-life candidates. We also need people like Moses with his hands raised in prayer, supported by Aaron and Hur. “As long as Moses kept his hands raised in prayer, Israel had the better of the fight’, but the slow progress of the victory reminds us of the past 43 years, during which people have cried to God day and night even when he delays to help the cause.
This morning Jesus comes with the triumphant assurance: “I tell you, God will see to it that justice is done for them speedily”. For God’s delays are not delays, but a test of our faith, that we may “pray always without becoming weary, and keep alight the flame of sure hope of victory.
To the Lord, then, it is our duty to appeal for the triumph of the cause of life, before and after the coming national election. And here and there, doubtless, a Christian heart is fervent and faithful in its prayers. These are the unknown, unsuspected soldiers in the battle for life, the humble saints, some of them bed-ridden, ignorant, poverty-stricken, despised, holy souls who have no skill in controversy, but who possess the grace to pray always without becoming weary.
These are the ones who have faith that the Son of Man shall come, and that when he comes all the enemies of life shall be destroyed, and the widow of the parable shall no longer be a widow but a mother, who shall go in to the feast and forget her foes, for “the days of her mourning shall be ended”.