This is the Post-Election Homily delivered on November 12 & 13 by Fr. Joe Muth, Pastor, St. Matthew Church, Baltimore. The church is made up of people from over 40 countries and has a Folk Group, a Gospel Choir, a Kenyan Choir, and some Sudanese Singers. The church established an Immigration Center in 2000 to assist people with political asylum, status adjustment, and family reunification. His words stand in stark contrast to what too many other pastors and bishops said–or failed to say to counter the poisonous rhetoric of the elections.
Malachi 3: 19-20a; Second Letter to the Thessalonians 3: 7-12; Luke 21: 5-19
Good Morning! Today you have come into church after a week of amazing changes due to the National Election on November 8. I am glad we are in church, because in here we are not Democrat, Republican, Green Party, Independent, or Tea Party. We are church! And now more than ever before we begin to understand what it means to be Church.
The readings this weekend are so timely. We hear from the prophet Malachi that “the day is coming, blazing like an oven…but for you who fear my name, there will arise the sun of justice with its healing rays”. From Luke we hear, “Take care not to be misled. Many will come in my name saying, ‘I am he’ and ‘The time is at hand’. Do not follow them”…”Nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom”…”By patient endurance you will save your lives”.
Patient Endurance!! How did God know that we needed this particular phrase at this time. It is an important spiritual phrase for us to hear. But it is also very difficult to hear about “patient endurance” when many of us feel so impatient. When we are so weary of racist language, abusive language, anti-immigrant language, anti-Muslim language, anti-women language, anti-LGBT language. When we thought we were way beyond this as a nation, and now feel like we haven’t moved or changed at all.
We have made a great effort in the Church of St. Matthew and the Church of Blessed Sacrament to treat all people who come into our communities with dignity and respect. We believe we are united in our mission and blessed with diversity. We believe that God has called us to “serve people in all conditions and circumstances”. Even our recent Pastoral Plan from the Archdiocese tells us that our mission priorities are the “outsiders, the disenfranchised, and the strangers”. When our church words and the Word of God give us this direction, and the society around us is opposite this call, then some action has to be taken.
This week, as your Pastor, I contacted the two Mosques that we have been connected to in the last year, and Pat Jones, the Director of IOSC, contacted them also. They thanked us for our kind and encouraging words and the principal of the Al Rahmah School said, “you have always reached out to me in difficult times and I am very grateful.” They were worried what to tell their children about the election, because the children were scared. The IOSC has also received calls from immigrants who are scared about what may happen to them.
Our contacts with the Mosques are important but as important as these actions are, they are too small, and our small churches should not be the only ones speaking and acting this way. The Bishops, the larger church in the nation should be acting and speaking out.
I love the church and have been born and raised up in the Catholic Church. But I am disappointed in the Catholic Church throughout this country of ours.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in his Letter from a Birmingham Jail says that “There can be no deep disappointment where there is not deep love….I see the Church as the Body of Christ. But, oh! How we have blemished and scarred that body through social neglect and through the fear of being nonconformists…the judgment of God is upon the church as never before. If today’s church does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church, it will lose its authenticity, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for this century. Every day I meet young people whose disappointment with the church has turned to outright disgust.” We need a new Church.
So I want you to know brothers and sisters, at our churches of St. Matthew and Blessed Sacrament we are going to continue to do what God asks of us, even if it may seem unorthodox to the larger church or the outside world. God has given us a great responsibility. We, as a Church, do not belong to any political party. However, we do stand in the midst of all the parties We have a unique opportunity to bring together opposing sides, if we are willing to let go. We reach out our hands in all directions and welcome all we touch and see.
Therefore, we must remember who we are as church.
1) We are immigrants, and we will continue to make our church communities safe places where all our families can find a home and raise their children;
2) We are Gay and Lesbian people, and we will continue to accept and love each other so that we all have a place to worship God in safety, with dignity and respect;
3) We are people of many colors, countries, languages, and cultures, and we will continue to make this a church of welcome by sharing food, prayer, and life together;
4) We are people of disabilities. We stand with people who are disabled in body, mind, or spirit, and treat them with respect, patience, and understanding;
5) God has given us the wisdom to be connected to the Muslim community this year, and we will continue to learn from them, share with them, and pray with them. We will let them know that we are safe communities, and we are not afraid of their culture or their faith, but want to embrace their story, too.
We stand against abusive language, sexist language, racist language. We honor the women of our communities and support them in their quest for recognition, and their dreams to achieve their highest potential, however, and wherever God may call them.
Malala Yousafzai ( The young girl from Pakistan shot by the Taliban because she spoke out for the education of girls. She became the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize Winner). She said about her assassin, “If one man can destroy the world, why can’t one girl change it?” and she said, “When the whole world is silent, even one voice becomes powerful.”
Some people have cautioned me in the past. Fr. Joe, be careful, you might get in trouble.
They have said you don’t want to be tagged as a trouble-maker. When Rosa Parks was asked if she sat down on the bus because her feet were tired, she said, “The only tired I was…was tired of giving in.” I am an old man and I would much rather be seen as a trouble-maker for justice, a trouble-maker for compassion, a trouble-maker for love, than a silent uninvolved voiceless Pastor.
Love is still the most powerful gift we have!!
We are about to move into the Advent Season where we celebrate the Coming of the Gift of Love in Jesus. Jesus was born into a violent divided world. He died, Love survived! So, I am not in despair! I am not afraid! I have hope because I know we will not be divided, by those who wish to keep us apart. The prophet Malachi reminds us “there will arise the sun of justice with its healing rays,” and Luke, “By patient endurance you will save your lives”, and I add, you will also save the lives of those entrusted to your care.
This is what we are about: The healing rays of justice and the saving of lives!!
I am Fr. Joe Muth, and I approve of this message!!!
Mahalo, Fr. Joe for bearing public moral witness in ways the bishops have not.
Mahalo Fr. George Cerniglia, Rector, Chaminade University for bringing this sermon to my attention.