Youth Rally and Mass for Life 2014 -Text of Homily from the D.C. Armory Mass
Homily given by Rev. Adam Park
January 22, 2014
People often say movies reflect society. The kind of movies that come out says something about the culture we live in. That’s the argument. So, have you noticed the number of movies released now about superheroes? There’s Superman, Batman, Spiderman, Captain America, Thor, and it goes on.
What’s so great about these superhero movies is that we enjoy watching them save the day. In the third Dark Knight movie, it’s Batman vs. Bain. In Man of Steel, it’s Superman vs. General Zod. They’re always defeating some evil force wanting to destroy the world. It’s good vs. evil and the good always wins.
If, in fact, movies really do reflect society, then these movies are saying that everyone is waiting for someone to save us.
I guarantee we all feel this way. After watching these movies, I’m sure we always say, “Wouldn’t it be awesome if that could really happen? Some hero with some special power that fights to take away all that is bad and evil in the world?” But then we remember that it’s all fake, it’s just fiction. We get back to reality and see that there is evil in the world and it seems like that evil is growing.
But I’ll tell you what, it’s not all fake. We do have a superhero. We do. It might not be like Superman or Captain America, but we do have a superhero today, and his name is Pope Francis. In less than a year, look at all the good the Holy Father has done for this world. He’s captured the hearts of people everywhere, Catholics and non-Catholics. People who have stopped coming to church are going back. He’s fighting to take away what’s bad and evil in the world.
He’s a legit superhero, and, you know what, he’s got the best super power ever, better than any of those other characters in the movies. What is it? He’s got God’s power. God’s grace working through him that’s changing hearts. It’s the power of the Holy Spirit that’s acting in him. That is a true super power.
The Holy Father recently wrote this about needing that power of the Spirit to be that hero, or as the Holy Father calls it, an evangelizer. “Spirit-filled evangelizers means evangelizers fearlessly open to the working of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit grants the courage to proclaim the newness of the Gospel with boldness in every time and place, even when it meets with opposition” (Evangelii Gaudium, 259).
And so, we have a superhero, Pope Francis with the Holy Spirit giving him that power, but he’s not the only one. Six are right behind me. The bishops here at Mass, the bishop that’s in charge of your diocese, where you come from, they are also superheroes, fighting to make sure good will always prevail. For several years, I worked closely with Cardinal Wuerl, and I’ll tell you what, being a bishop is hard work. There are real battles that our bishops have to fight, most of them we will never know about, all so that evil doesn’t win out, and so, to our bishops, thank you.
And so Pope Francis and our bishops, — they are genuine superheroes, and thank God for them. But they aren’t the only ones, and I’m looking at 6,000 more right now. All of you are superheroes, and that same super power that flows through Pope Francis and our bishops, it flows through you – God’s grace working through you so that you too can change hearts, and there is a very real battle that we’re fighting today, and it’s the battle of standing up for life. It’s standing up for the goodness and truth about life. And that’s what God wants us to be — to be for our world heroes for life.
There are a lot of reasons why we need you to be heroes for life today, but I’m going to give you one example. Recently, there was a very sad incident that happened in a city in Argentina. There were these activists, pro-abortion activists, and they say there were about 7,000 of them, and they were storming the streets and spray-painting slogans in support of abortion and contraception all throughout the city, and their plan was to go to the Cathedral and do the same thing, vandalize the church property and spray paint all over the Cathedral.
But a group of about 1,500 men formed a chain around the Cathedral to prevent the protesters from getting in, and they were standing there praying the rosary. Now, when the protesters finally encountered those 1,500 men, it was absolutely sickening what they did. I won’t go into details, but the acts they performed were a total mockery of our faith. When they were spat upon and spray-painted in inappropriate places, and other crude acts being done on them, all I could think of was Jesus saying, “If the world hates you, realize that it hated me first” (John 15:18).
Thank God for those men. Not retaliating, not being violent to those protesters, just standing there, praying the rosary, and standing up for what was right and good. They were heroes that day.
Why do I bring up this example? Because evil does exist in our world, and it will do everything to go against the Church, to discredit the Church and to destroy everything about the Church. But I bring up this example to show that we have to be the heroes for today. Thank God for Pope Francis. Thank God for our bishops, but now it’s your turn. The Church needs you to be heroes for life.
We don’t live in a time anymore where we can simply take the Church for granted. There’s a growing hostility against the Church, and the way our society wants us to react to it is by making us feel like we have to apologize for what we believe, to apologize for being Catholic. That we have to be sorry for our stance on abortion, on life issues, on gay marriage, on contraception.
No. I am not sorry for being Catholic. I am not sorry for standing up for these issues. Why do I have to apologize for standing up for the Truth? It might not be the popular opinion, but the Gospel wasn’t the result of popular opinion. The Gospel was the result of Jesus Christ, the Gospel was the result of the Truth that God gave us, and so why am I sorry about that?
Are you sorry that you’re Catholic? Are you going to apologize for what you believe? Absolutely not! Then, be that hero for life today, and to be that hero for life, stand up for what is true. As our Holy Father said, with the Holy Spirit, boldly and fearlessly proclaim the Gospel.
Now, as you know, every superhero has a weakness: Superman’s weakness was kryptonite. You take away Thor’s hammer and he’s powerless. Well, being a hero for life, we can also have a weakness. Our Holy Father makes it very clear what that is for us. He says, “Without moments of adoration, of prayerful encounter with the word, of sincere conversation with the Lord, our work easily becomes meaningless; our fervor dies out” (EG, 262). “God’s voice is no longer heard, the quiet joy of his love is no longer felt, and the desire to do good fades” (EG, 2). Basically, if we don’t tap in to that power of the Holy Spirit, we become weak, we begin not to care about what’s good and what’s right.
And so, to be that hero for life we have to stay rooted in Jesus Christ. We have to tap into that source that constantly energizes us, that gives us that strength and zeal. But how? By receiving the Eucharist every Sunday, every day if you can. If you’ve given in to some weakness, go to confession and experience God’s love and mercy. You have to pray everyday. As the Holy Father said, seek those prayerful encounters with God. Read about some other great heroes in the church. Read up on the saints.
It’s also about being consistent in your life. The way you live your life shows how well you are that hero. What music do you listen to, or what TV shows do you watch? What do you do on the Internet? Who do you hang out with? You’re not just a hero for life today, but more importantly, you have to be that hero every day, and your entire life has to show that.
In a few moments we’re going to receive the Eucharist – the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ – the greatest power that God can give us. It’s the power that shows that Jesus Christ already won the battle. He’s defeated sin and death. He has the victory. And he gives us that power, his very life into ours. Let’s show that victory by being that hero for life.
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