Saturday, February 4, 2012

Sunday 5B: "they brought to him all who were ill or possessed by demons": the work of Christ in the Church to battle evils of body and spirit

"Is not man's life on earth a drudgery?"

In some philosophies the view of the human person is rather bleak, and life is thought to be nasty and brutish, even when not short. Considering the many ills that flesh is heir to, and the long record of man's inhumanity to man, it is sometimes tempting to side with those who think very little, if at all, of man's dignity or destiny.

Saint Paul comes into the picture compelled to preach because he has met Someone who has changed his life. And not just anyone, but the only One who can change life on earth by revealing there is a life in heaven to come. Saint Paul has met and loves Jesus Christ. And this love consumes him and urges him in charity to reach as many others with the Gospel as time and effort afford.

"I have made myself a slave to all so as to win over as many as possible."

This mission of preaching and teaching the truths of Jesus Christ and giving access to him in the sacramental life for the salvation of the world has been entrusted to Saint Paul and to everyone in the Church, according to the vocation of each.

The Church casts out evil in Christ, both of spirit because of sin, but also the physical evils that afflict the body and the mind such as illness, poverty and the lack of other means to human dignity such as shelter, food, clothing, education, employment and and health care. These formed an everyday part of the mission that consumed the life of Saint Paul in imitation of Christ who "drove out many demons" and restored bodily health to Saint Peter's mother-in-law as we see in our readings today.

" 'Heal the sick!' The Church has received this charge from the Lord and strives to carry it out by taking care of the sick as well as by accompanying them with her prayer of intercession. She believes in the life-giving presence of Christ, the physician of souls and bodies. This presence is particularly active through the sacraments, and in an altogether special way through the Eucharist, the bread that gives eternal life and that St. Paul suggests is connected with bodily health." (CCC 1509)

"Life and physical health are precious gifts entrusted to us by God. We must take reasonable care of them, taking into account the needs of others and the common good.

"Concern for the health of its citizens requires that society help in the attainment of living-conditions that allow them to grow and reach maturity: food and clothing, housing, health care, basic education, employment, and social assistance." (CCC 2288)

We as Catholics have a vested interest in helping every human person have access to health care. The HHS mandate that proposes to require that Catholics purchase abortifacient and other forms of contraception and sterilization through health insurance plans violates the God-given mandate to respect and defend all life from the moment of conception until natural death in all its stages and conditions. Abortion is not health care because pregnancy is not a disease. Man and woman do not need "protection" from each because the marital act is a beautiful part of the love that man and woman share in holy matrimony. This is why it is a mortal sin to procure an abortion whether through the use or purchase of contraception or by direct surgical means or by mutilating the human body through surgical or other means of sterilization.

"The regulation of births represents one of the aspects of responsible fatherhood and motherhood. Legitimate intentions on the part of the spouses do not justify recourse to morally unacceptable means (for example, direct sterilization or contraception)." (CCC 2399)

Buying means to abortion, sterilization and contraception through health insurance plans is cooperation in a moral evil: a violation of the law of God and mortally sinful. It is just as sinful as voting into office someone who has promised to use that office to promote abortion as we saw with the votes of 54% of Catholics in the previous presidential election.

We, as was Paul, are called by Christ to bring to Him all who are in need of healing whether in body or in spirit so that they too may receive the gift of salvation. We cooperate together in the Church, the Body of Christ on earth, in doing this and every good also for the sake of our own eternal life.

Praised be Jesus Christ, now and forever. Amen.


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