When Moses had his encounter with God in the burning bush, he became a different man. Before this he was a prince on the run, afraid for his life. After this encounter with God he became a man for others with a mandate that seemed impossible to him. Though our reading did not include the rest of Exodus 3, he tried to dodge what God was calling him to, but God wouldn’t have it. God had chosen him to lead the Israelites out of slavery into the desert. In the succeeding chapters of Exodus we can see that time after time the Israelites wanted to return to their slavery. “Oh for the fleshpots of
Lent is a season to be in the desert, to recognize the desire in us to return to the fleshpots of our previous lives of being slaves to sin.
This past week we implemented a policy that has been the most difficult decision of my life. The choice could have been made to do nothing and allow a lesbian couple to enroll their child in our Kindergarten. But that choice would have been against Archdiocesan policy; and when a priest is ordained he promises obedience to his bishop; and I cannot violate that vow; and I will not.
The choice before me was either to protect the beliefs of our faith or pretend nothing was happening. But our school, after all, is a Catholic school. And our reason for existence, both as a parish and as a Catholic school, is to make disciples of Jesus Christ. Being disciples of Jesus Christ is very demanding. Yes, being disciples entails adherence to the many examples of Jesus’ love: love one another as I have loved you; be not the first to throw a stone; judge not lest you be judged. Think of the Good Samaritan story and the Prodigal Son.
But when it came to making disciples, He spoke in a different way, a more radical way: unless you take up your cross and follow me, you can have no part of me. Repent and change your ways. If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn and offer him the other cheek. Unless you hate your mother and father, brothers and sisters, you cannot be my disciples. Unless you eat My body and drink My blood, you have no life within you. And when the throngs deserted him, He turned to the 12 and said, “Do you also want to leave?” These are only a few of the hard sayings Jesus gives to those who really want to be his disciples.
Would that I could wave a magic wand and make all of the present struggle disappear. I hate the fact that I had to make a choice between being loving and protecting the teachings of the church.
As I look around
My brothers and sisters, our school is a Catholic school and our teaching on the sanctity of marriage is as clear as a bell. So, the decision I made was based on my conviction that we needed to rest on the side of backing our beliefs and our values. We need to fight for our Catholic values because here in
Oh, for the fleshpots of earlier days. How long has it been now that we have felt intimidated about our teaching on the sacrament of marriage – even to the point of feeling that we should apologize for our faith. That kind of spirit is not one of a true disciple of Christ. In the last analysis, I asked this question: why should we compromise our faith for someone else’s behavior?
I want to close by giving a short synopsis of the issues:
Our school is a Catholic school. The issue is not about our not accepting “sinners.” It is not about punishing the child for the sins of his or her parents. It is simply that the lesbian couple is saying that their relationship is a good one that should be accepted by everyone; and the Church cannot agree to that. People who are divorced do not say divorce is good. There are no pro-divorce parades. Divorce is a tragedy for everybody. So there’s no comparing other issues to the issue of gay marriage. Actually, by this decision we really want to protect the child and his or her parents from the necessary conflict that their relationship would bring to a clear-seeing and committed Catholic community.
The policy of the Catholic school system is also to protect the teachers from being forced – in our own schools – to face huge conflicts within the classroom, so they can teach clearly, and also support the family life of the children they are teaching. According to our Archbishop this policy is good for the lesbian parents, for their child and also for our teachers and our school. If people are living other conflicts with our faith and publicly defend that conflict (for example someone publicly encouraging divorce) we would have the same problem.