Yesterday the Washington State Catholic Conference held our Cornerstone Catholic Conference gathering. Once again this year this event needed to be a virtual gathering rather than in person. As the banner above indicates, the theme this year focused on Forming Disciples for Life and Justice.
I hope and pray all who participated in this event were strengthened in their faith as well as their resolve to live as disciples of Christ. Thanks for all you do to proclaim Christ to the world and serve as living examples for others how to live a fully human life – a life rooted in Christ Jesus.
Below you can find the video of our closing Mass at St. James cathedral, and the homily as well.
God is the source of all life, all creation, nothing exists apart from God. In Christ Jesus, God creates all things and holds all things together. With this truth alone, we see how small we are in the universal order of things, as well as discover the absolute greatness of God!
We hear often from Jesus in the Gospels that the greatest among us is the one who serves the rest. The last shall be first. Those who humble themselves shall be exalted. This personal awareness of being last and servant to all attains what the heart longs for most; union with God, a full life and true justice.
Moses in the first reading this evening instructs the people to fear the Lord God and keep his commandments, as this is the proper way to pursue long life. Indeed, this is the only way to gain eternal life!
Then, in the Gospel, a scribe asks Jesus which is the first of all the commandments, and Jesus gives the great summary:
“First is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all you mind, and with all your strength. The second is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
When the scribe responded positively to this teaching of Jesus, he was told: “You are not far from the kingdom of God.”
I’m asked quite often these days how we can heal the many divisions of our church and society today. My friends, this Gospel is the answer! By the Lord, we are created, called and commissioned to live in this manner. It is not beyond our grasp. LIFE is the gift God shares with us. The teachings of Jesus, the commandments of God give us all we need to live this life to its fullest.
Many practices and behaviors have torn the fabric of our society today; abortion which destroys life, racism which diminishes the dignity of our brothers and sisters. The list goes on. The virtues are the stitches by which we will mend this fabric of life, one relationship at a time. The Kingdom of God is rooted in the same values that build a society where every member can flourish – “Love and truth will meet; justice and peace will kiss”. (Psalm 85: 11)
I am reminded of the words of St. Pope John Paul II in his Farewell Address in Detroit at the conclusion of his 10 pastoral visit to the US in 1987:
For this reason, America, your deepest identity and truest character as a nation is revealed in the position you take towards the human person.The ultimate test of your greatness is the way you treat every human being, but especially the weakest and most defenseless ones.
The best traditions of your land presume respect for those who cannot defend themselves. If you want equal justice for all, and true freedom and lasting peace, then, America, defend life! All the great causes that are yours today will have meaning only to the extent that you guarantee the right to life and protect the human person:
– feeding the poor and welcoming refugees;
– reinforcing the social fabric of this nation;
– promoting the true advancement of women;
– securing the rights of minorities;
– pursuing disarmament, while guaranteeing legitimate defence; all this will succeed only if respect for life and its protection by the law is granted to every human being from conception until natural death.
Every human person – no matter how vulnerable or helpless, no matter how young or how old, no matter how healthy, handicapped or sick, no matter how useful or productive for society – is a being of inestimable worth created in the image and likeness of God. This is the dignity of America, the reason she exists, the condition for her survival-yes, the ultimate test of her greatness: to respect every human person, especially the weakest and most defenceless ones, those as yet unborn.
To truly LIVE is to respect the natural order which exists in all of creation. In other words, to live according to the commands of God is to live a holy life, a virtuous life, a JUST life.
Justice is one of the four cardinal virtues; Prudence, Temperance, Fortitude and Justice.
Justice is a virtue which ORDERS relationships in society toward the common good.
We also know the greatest virtue is LOVE. In other words, Love informs all other virtues, including JUSTICE, and in a sense, we can say that love dwells in every virtue. Love is the compelling strength or force of a virtue. (Article by Philip Land, SJ)
Do not despair for with God all things are possible.