Bishop Robert Morlino’s Homily; Laetare (Rejoice) Sunday

March 18, 2012

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Today is “Rejoice” Sunday; “Laetare.”

Now, as someone who watches and reads the news a lot, that news doesn’t not leave me in much of a “laetare” mood, in much of mood to rejoice.
It leaves me in a mood that is in fact very sad, because I honestly do fear that our country is on a very, very, very dangerous path.  I do feel that our country is choosing darkness rather than the light, and I do fear the consequences of that, as we just heard in the gospel (ref. gospel text).

But in truth, that does not keep me from rejoicing, because my life is not all about the news, and my life is not all about this country.  The main thing in my life is Jesus Christ, Who is still risen from the dead, and that’s why today is Rejoice Sunday, because our celebration of the Easter feast is only 3 weeks away, We’re gaining on it fast, and that Resurrection victory of Jesus Christ is the absolute last word about the journey of humanity in this world.

Whatever may be happening right now in our country, or what will happen, that doesn’t change the destiny of our journey.  And that’s why we sang so beautifully “Let my tongue be silent if ever I forget you” (ref. responsorial psalm text).  If ever we forget the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, there’s only one reasonable place to go, and that is into the depths of despair.

“Let my tongue be silent, if ever I forget you.”  We’re not going to forget, and that’s why we can rejoice.  We can rejoice because of what we hear at the beginning of the first reading (ref. first reading text)—God’s people sinned again and again, and again. But He did not abandon them.  Why?  We heard it in the second reading at the end (ref. second reading text).  Because we are God’s handiwork.  The work of His hands.  Another way of saying that is that we are God’s work of art.  God is not going to abandon his human work of art, under any circumstances.

An Artist Who is really into the work He produces.  If that artwork ever becomes defaced, the Artist doesn’t say, “Throw it away;” He says, “Let me fix it.”  And so when we deface our own humanity through sin, God has fixed it, in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  It’s fixed.  And if we fall again, He will fix it.  Provided that we admit our sins.  We can’t have the healing of God unless we admit that we need healing.  If we won’t accept the healing, then we can die in our sin.  The way we accept the healing is to say, “I’m a sinner, I need healing.”

And the first point- that’s a great reminder; that one of the major Lenten things we do is make a good confession, to prepare for Easter.  And we encourage our friends and our neighbors and our family members—make a good confession.  Every year more and more people are coming back to Confession.  We need everybody to come back to confession, because this is a Church of seven Sacraments.  In order to be a Catholic, you’ve got to be open to seven Sacraments, not six.  So let’s encourage family, friends, fellow workers – make a good confession, who are Catholic.  And that’s the first point.

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The second point is about King Cyrus (ref. first reading text), another reason for joy.  King Cyrus was a “big deal” pagan leader.  He had no interest whatsoever in God.  But when God really needed to save His people, what did He do?  He inspired even King Cyrus, who had no interest.  And King Cyrus became God’s instrument, to lead the chosen people back to Jerusalem, to build the temple.  And he appointed a Mayor of Jerusalem when they went back, his name was Nehemiah (there’s no extra charge for that), and he appointed a high priest whose name was Zerubbabel.  God even inspired him to go further. And God inspired him to give all the money to build the temple.  So when Zerubbabel went back, he didn’t have to have an Annual Catholic Appeal.  Cyrus gave all the money.

Now, if Cyrus is a pagan leader with no interest in God, no matter who any leader in the world is, that leader is not powerful enough to thwart God’s purposes.

Cyrus, a pagan, gladly went along.  Maybe others wouldn’t.  But no leader in the world is powerful enough to thwart God’s Providence, to thwart the plan of Almighty God for the end of the journey of His beloved people, the heavenly Jerusalem won by the Death and the Resurrection.  That’s why we can rejoice—no world leader can undo the victory of the Resurrection.  Can’t be done.  That’s why we can rejoice, and that’s the second point.

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And the third point—those who belong to God rush toward the light, and those who don’t hate the light, and choose the darkness.  Common sense and observation tell us – when do most crimes occur?  At night.  When a serious crime occurs in open daylight, great surprise is expressed—“how could that be?”  The night is the place where evildoers flourish.  They hate the light.  Their first agenda is to knock out the lighting system, if they’re going to take a big heist.  And then the next thing is to knock out the observation cameras.  Get rid of the light!  The deeper the darkness, the better!  That’s how it is, with those who choose against Jesus Christ.

Those of us who are with Christ are drawn to the light, to the truth.  We can’t get enough of it.  And that, too, is important, as we look at our world situation.  Because we have to perform a moral act.  Come May and come November, we have to vote.  That’s a moral act.  That can either be good, or it can be evil.  It can be a virtue or it can be a sin, how we vote.

The most serious responsibility that we have – and I know you know this – I’m telling you this so you tell your family, your friends, your co-workers and your neighbors. You tell them; I can’t get at them, the way you can.  You tell them that those who love the Lord can’t get enough of the Light.  That is, they can’t get enough of the Truth.  Now what we have are one political commercial after another.  Every one of which, of either party, contains partial lies, if not total lies.  I’m afraid those commercials work.  That’s why they spend millions and millions and millions of dollars on them; they work.  Many people vote, based on those commercials, which are, in large part, false.   I don’t want you to swear.  But if it were ever permissible to swear, it would be when those commercials come on.  All of them.  And if you have the temptation to swear when those commercials come on, you’re on the right track.  Just overcome those temptations.

Those who are drawn to the light have a responsibility to find it.  To find the Truth.  And there’s no truth in those commercials that would help one to make a responsible decision about how to vote.  We’ve got to somehow get behind that.  Somehow those commercials are a layer that has to be peeled away.  Not the setting that determines how I vote.  Spread that!

“Let my tongue be silent if ever I forget you.”  Don’t forget the Lord, don’t forget the Light, and don’t let your tongue be silent!   And then we’ll have just another of many reasons, amid all the doom and gloom of the world situation right now, we’ll have just another reason to rejoice.

Praised be Jesus Christ!

Bishop Robert C. Morlino
Bishop of Madison