Fr. Bloomfield's Blog

I am a Roman Catholic Priest of the Archdiocese of Detroit, currently assigned to Divine Child Parish in Dearborn, Michigan. When I manage to keep the page updated, hopefully something interesting can be found here!

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Homily for Sunday, January 22, 2006

The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. Repent and believe the Gospel.

Today's Mass speaks strongly of repentance: whether Jonah in the first reading or our Lord in the Gospel, it is clear that the message of "metanoia," of changing our hearts and minds is central to God's saving action in our lives. Yet receiving the message of repentance is not an easy one; I am sure that any of you who have been corrected haven't found it easy or simply to accept the need to change.

Seminary is a difficult place for precisely that reason. The priests and professors charged with forming men to be priests are constantly looking to help improve the qualities of each seminarian; this makes for a tough go of it, however, when it seems as though "everyone has something against me." My University, Franciscan University, also had the blessing to be a place where everyone considered it his or her duty to correct a brother or sister when they weren't living the Gospel to its fullness.

I remember one occasion in particular in which a friend of mine addressed a pretty harsh criticism: "Andy, you're selfish and proud; you really need to consider others. You're not the most important person in the room." After three or four days of fuming and anger -- and prayer -- I realized the truth of the statement, and began to ask for the grace of true repentance: changing my heart and mind.

Wherever the call to repentance comes from -- whether a friend or an enemy -- we need to prepare our hearts in humility to accept the message. The Assyrians were enemies of the Jews; yet Jonah was called to preach conversion to Nineveh, which is near modern-day Mosul, in Iraq. It was a great city, but it heard the call to repentance without delay, even though it was delivered by an enemy. Everyone, whether guilty or not, from greatest to least, began the fast and covered themselves with sackcloth. We don't know what the sin was, but we do know that God's purpose was merciful: he spared Nineveh.

Our nation is in need of similar repentance today. We need to hear the Gospel call to repent of our nation's complicity in the greatest evil of our day, an evil that was extended as a Constitutional right 33 years ago today. In 1973, the Supreme Court decisions of Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton enshrined the "right" to abortion with Constitutional protection throughout all nine months of pregnancy. Since then, nearly 46 million children have been legally killed in our great nation.

Such numbers stagger the mind, but maybe we can think in terms we can understand. If we consider the Big House in Ann Arbor, holding over 100,000 fans for each home game, and six home games each season, the crowds of 70 seasons total about 46 million. These children have been killed legally, and yet our outcry remains small. As Catholics in particular, we need to heed the call to repentance and conversion, particularly for this great evil in our midst.

We need to "change our minds" and hearts in every area of our lives: do our purchases support abortion providers? Do our investments? Do we accept abortion as a political fact? Or are we, in fact, willing to change the way we view the political landscape and demand an end to the legalized killing of our most vulnerable brothers and sisters? Can we break free of the common way of thinking and see the truth of abortion as an horrific attack on the dignity of the human person?

Each of us has been given inherent dignity by God -- not by the state, not by our parents, or by doctors, but by God -- and we must respect this dignity with absolute care. The Gospel call to repent means to embrace the fullness of the truth, including the difficult truths of working to end injustice, even when it has become culturally accepted.

And then, perhaps we need to repent of the way we treat mothers in difficult pregnancies -- do we shun them? Criticize or ridicule single mothers, instead of helping them with food and clothing and shelter? Do we offer the open arms of Christ's forgiveness to women suffering from the effects of abortion? Or do we send them away without any hope, closing the door of repentance?

Jonah was sent to Nineveh to offer the hope of repentance. We look at the Cross and see our Lord's even more generous offer of His own life in exchange for our sins. Are we prepared to repent and transform our lives to make abortion unthinkable? And illegal?

The bishops of the United States have declared tomorrow, Monday, January 23, 2006, a national day of penance for the scourge of abortion in our nation. I encourage all of you to fast and to pray for this cause, and to examine each of our lives to see where Christ is calling us to repent and follow Him more deeply, especially with regard to this critical issue of our day.

The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. Repent and believe in the Gospel.