Today’s homily is for the 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, August 28, 2022, and the readings can be found by clicking here. The video of the homily is here.
The Tenth Commandment forbids what we call covetousness behavior. “You shall not covet anything that is your neighbors…You shall not desire your neighbor’s house, his field, or his manservant, or his maidservant, or his ox, or his ass, or anything that is your neighbor’s.” Greed; greed creates a desire in me to have more than what is mine, or what is due to me. Greed causes me to want what is rightfully anothers, and even to plot how I might have it. It was king David’s sin when he first took Uriah’s wife, Bathsheba, and then had Uriah killed in battle. Greed makes me want what is not mine to take, and do what should not be done.
Who do we think we are? What do we think we deserve? The book of Sirach teaches us that if we want to find favor with God we must conduct our affairs with humility. The more humble we are, the greater we are–and that is the way to find favor with God. That was the lesson Jesus was trying to teach the leading Pharisees of his day. Oh, they were quite important—always striving for places of honor and for the respect of others. “Be careful,” Jesus warns them, “you’ll have better luck if you would humble yourself and take the lowest spot,” and that’s humility.
The virtue of humility is the antidote to greed, envy, and lust. The Catechism of the Catholic Church #2539 teaches that envy, itself a capital sin, refers to the sadness at the sight of another’s goods and the immoderate desire to acquire them for oneself, even unjustly. When it desires to give harm to a neighbor it is a mortal sin.” Listen, envy is sadness at the sight of another’s goods, and a desire to take what is not mine to take. Isn’t that what abortion is? Abortion takes the very life of another person. Abortion isn’t just a violation of the 10th commandment, it is a violation of the 5th commandment not to kill, and the 7th, which forbids stealing, and the 4th to honor our father and mother, and the 1st which commands us to love the God of Life before all else.
In our country we seek to uphold our individual rights, social rights, speech rights, reproductive rights, but we go too far. You see, my rights as an individual stop at the doorstep of another person’s rights. That’s why we ended slavery in this country, because my rights to own property stopped at another human’s right to freedom. And so those who wished to own human’s said, “Well, they’re not human then. They are animals–just property.” If we want to impound the rights of others, we have to dehumanize them–and that’s exactly what proponents of abortion have done for years. It’s not a person. It’s not a human life. It’s a fetus, an embryo, a mass of cells–no! It is a human life at various stages of development, and every stage valuable and good and human with rights!
Abortion is rooted in envy and a selfish desire to take what does not belong to me–a child’s life. Abortion is stealing someone’s life. Abortion is stripping a child from his father’s and grandparent’s arms. Abortion is pride and arrogance in thinking that I can control the future and its outcomes. King David thought he had it all figured out, but he did not, and he condemned himself a sinner in the presence of God and the Prophet Nathan. Abortion is rooted in fear and a desire to undo what has been done; to keep secret the sin that created life, and humility is the answer.
It’s no wonder that St. Augustine said, “Humility is the foundation of all the other virtues hence, in the soul in which this virtue does not exist there cannot be any other virtue.” Humility is the cure for our country and for California. Humility is the virtue Jesus was trying to teach the Pharisees. He said, “everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” If we have any hope of heaven, we must give God his seat, humbly recognize the rights of all humans, no matter how small, and seek only to love and serve those entrusted to our care.