Ask almost any Catholic to name a prophet, and they will invariably choose a prophet from the Old Testament. Maybe Moses or Abraham, maybe Noah or David, Elijah or Joshua. For some reason, we don’t immediately think of the prophets of the New Testament, like John the Baptist, or the greatest prophet of all - Jesus Christ - Priest, Prophet and King, par excellence.
I doubt anyone would think to name Bishop Flores, or Monsignor Gus, or Father Sam, but these are men who speak the truth about God and lead others towards Him. Here's a shocker: You and I are supposed to be prophets, too. At our baptism, we were anointed and empowered to become prophets. As prophets, we have a solemn responsibility to speak the truth about God, and our mission is to bring people to Jesus Christ, and to share the teachings of His Church.
Truth is not relative and does not depend on the whims of culture or the latest poll. Prophets often proclaim a message that is not popular, and sometimes the message is difficult to accept. They speak the truth, no matter how hard it is to hear.
When the truth is denied or ignored, God depends on His prophets to step up. In the first reading, God sends the prophet Ezekiel to a rebellious people who probably won’t heed His message. God sends Ezekiel anyway, telling him not to worry whether the people listen or not...they will know a prophet was among them. A prophet is not responsible for converting the hearts of the people; that’s the work of the Holy Spirit. The prophet’s responsibility is to be faithful in proclaiming God’s message.
The Supreme Court’s ruling on same sex marriage has created sharp division among the faithful. Some of my friends who are good Catholics celebrate the decision, and some of my friends who are good Catholics are devastated. I’m not a politician. I’m just a poor deacon who took an oath to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And so, with the grace of God, let me try.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines a sacramental marriage as a covenant by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership for the whole life, and which, by its nature, is ordered toward the good of the spouses and the procreation of new life. The Catechism says that God Himself is the author of marriage. Since the beginning, God made man and woman in His own image and likeness. And He designed man to leave his mother and father and cling to his wife such that the two become one flesh. The love between them is not just for themselves, for from their mutual love, springs forth new life. This marital covenant is essential to God’s Plan because this is how God's creation is able to persevere and perpetuate.
God's plan for procreation through marriage has existed since the beginning of time, and there is nothing any human-made laws can do to change the natural order.
What the Supreme Court has done is not altogether surprising when considered in light of civil laws, because a civil marriage is understood to be a contract, and in civil law people have always had the right to enter into contractual relationships. A sacramental marriage in the Church is a covenant relationship that cannot be broken, while a civil marriage is a contract between two people, an agreement to live together until death do them part, or until either of them decide to hire a lawyer and terminate the contract. So our government now says that those of the same sex can contract with one another and form a civil union, with all the benefits that the civil law affords to marriage contracts.
For my friends who think the sky is falling, recall the words of Jesus himself when he created the Church, “Peter, you are rock, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall never prevail against it.” For two thousand years, Emperors and Kings and governments have opposed the Church. In the year 1808, for example, Napoleon took as a prisoner, Pope Pius VII, during his invasion of Italy, and he announced to the Pope that he would destroy the Church. To which the Pope replied, “Oh my little man, you think you are going to succeed in accomplishing what centuries of priests and bishops have tried to do and failed?” The Church has faced this sort of thing many times before and we are still standing. Obviously, Jesus has made good on his promise. No other explanation for why the Church has survived centuries of brutal persecutions and heresies, corruption and scandal.
For my friends who think the Supreme Court ruling will lead to the ruin of families, the truth is the institution of marriage has been crumbling before our eyes, and we have no one to blame but ourselves. Divorce rates have climbed to 50%. Jealousies and resentment, infidelities and neglect, domestic violence and pornography are doing more to destroy the family than a loving relationship between two people ever could.
While same sex marriage is a disorder of God's marital law, the Church reminds us that all sin is a disorder of God's law. Sex outside of marriage. The use of contraception to avoid pregnancy. Failing to come to Holy Mass on Sundays, without good reason. Failing to treat others with respect and dignity. These are examples of conduct that violate no civil law, but nevertheless, are contrary to God's Will. I’m reminded of the crowd who was ready to stone a woman to death because she had committed adultery, until Jesus intervened when he told them, “Let he who has no sin throw the first stone.”
No doubt, we are entering into a new norm, one that would have been inconceivable just ten years ago. So how are we supposed to treat our brothers and sisters who are attracted to the same sex or who enter into a same sex union? The Catechism of the Catholic Church speaks to this very clearly. Let me quote, “We must accept them with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard must be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives.”
So, rather than condemn other people's marriages, we should worry about healing the wounds in our own marriage. Rather than spend our time judging others, we should renew our commitment to our own spouse and children, and to our parents and siblings. We can become shining beacons of marital love by strengthening and uniting our own family.
Now, more than ever, God needs you to be a prophet - a living example of holiness, always with love and respect for God and each other. We don't need a degree in Theology to be a prophet, we just need to live a life faithful to the Greatest of all the Commandments.