This Is Our Time To Be Heroes

June 20, 2021

Deacon Ken Henry
Prince of Peace Catholic Community, Houston, Texas

Listen to audio See video of this homily

Reading 1 – Job 38:8-11

The Lord addressed Job out of the storm and said:
    Who shut within doors the sea,
        when it burst forth from the womb;
    when I made the clouds its garment
        and thick darkness its swaddling bands?
    When I set limits for it
        and fastened the bar of its door,
    and said: Thus far shall you come but no farther,
        and here shall your proud waves be stilled!

Reading 2 – 2 Corinthians 5:14-17

Brothers and sisters:
The love of Christ impels us,
once we have come to the conviction that one died for all;
therefore, all have died.
He indeed died for all,
so that those who live might no longer live for themselves
but for him who for their sake died and was raised.
Consequently, from now on we regard no one according to the flesh;
even if we once knew Christ according to the flesh,
yet now we know him so no longer.
So whoever is in Christ is a new creation:
the old things have passed away;
behold, new things have come.

Mark 4:35-41

On that day, as evening drew on, Jesus said to his disciples:
“Let us cross to the other side.”
Leaving the crowd, they took Jesus with them in the boat just as he was.
And other boats were with him.
A violent squall came up and waves were breaking over the boat,
so that it was already filling up.
Jesus was in the stern, asleep on a cushion.
They woke him and said to him,
“Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”
He woke up,
rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Quiet!  Be still!”
The wind ceased and there was great calm.
Then he asked them, “Why are you terrified?
Do you not yet have faith?”
They were filled with great awe and said to one another,
“Who then is this whom even wind and sea obey?”

In the readings today we are introduced to real heroes, not Captain America…but real heroes.  Job is a spiritual hero…he is a man of health and wealth, who loses everything but his faith.  The second reading is written by Paul, another spiritual hero, a serious sinner who, when converted, gave his life to spread the Gospel wherever he could…in today’s reading in Corinth where we are told of the importance of faith, and that message is reinforced when the greatest hero of all time, the Incarnate Jesus asks His disciples if they lack faith after he calmed the waters. 

The sea is a powerful force of nature.  It can be serene one moment and terrifying the next.  The sea is a common thread today in our first reading, the responsorial psalm, and the Gospel.  We learn that God, and He alone, can control the sea  

When I was 45, I decided to learn how to sail a boat.  If you have never sailed, let me tell you it is the most fun you can have at 7 miles per hour! I recommend you take lessons before you buy a boat though…not the way I did it! We hear in poems and other forms of literature where people want to get on a boat and let the winds just take them where they might.  Sounds idyllic, doesn’t it.  But in reality, if you let the winds just take you…they will take you into a rock, or another boat, or some other danger.  You must learn to control the sails and the rudder if you want to remain safe and get to your intended destination. 

This week our church calls us to remember the importance of religious freedom…but what is happening to our country.  If we look at the sea as a metaphor for life, we are sitting back and letting the political winds take us where they might.  Political expediency is controlling the rudder and our religious paralysis is controlling the sails. 

Our faith, our freedom, and our families are under attack.  When our country was founded and it was realized the constitution did not include the protection of any rights, the Bill of Rights was added, the first 10 amendments.  The very first amendment states Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.  The founding fathers believed that everyone should be able to practice their own religion, Protestants, Jews, Muslims, Mormons…and even Catholics.  This is being reinterpreted today not as freedom to worship, but freedom from worship.   

Our elected Catholic leaders don’t want to force their “personal” beliefs on others…well, their personal “Catholic” beliefs…they have no problem forcing their other beliefs on us.  They say they represent their constituencies…. well, all but their religious constituencies. 

Let’s face it, as Dr. Peter Kreeft, our keynote speaker next weekend at RFW, “In the eyes of most of society the only good Catholic…is a bad Catholic!  Oh, he’s a Catholic, but at least he doesn’t believe in all of that anti-abortion stuff, and he said he hasn’t gone to confession in years.”  You are viewed as an “acceptable” Christian if you put Christ in a bottle, like a genie, and only bring him out when you need him. 

Any American whose religious views remain close to the Gospel messages of Love, Sacrifice, and Surrender, and thus are not in consonance with our woke culture, are viewed as extremists and not to be trusted.  Anyone who believes in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist is viewed as little more than a cultist.  Anyone who believes the decline of the family is a major source of the decline in morals today is a reactionary.  Anyone who believes that abortion is wrong is…you know…they don’t have a label for us on this one…I think because somewhere deep down in their souls they know we are right. 

But let me give you a recent example of how our Freedom is limited.  Last Saturday the first ever Man’s March for Life was held in Washington DC.  Two of us from this parish went to this event which began at an abortion clinic, and we then marched, quietly through the streets of the capital.  We followed the example set for us by Dr. MLK in Selma.  We all wore suits and we marched quietly, ignoring the insults thrown at us along the way.  From 11am until 2pm we had a permit to be in Lafayette Park, directly across from the White House.  We had a speakers’ platform with a sound system set up.  As we made our last turn towards the park our police escort told us the park was just closed…from 11 until 2, the hours of our rally.  We asked if there were threats…why was it closed?   

And anyone who believes this is not the work of the devil is wrong.   

Today, we are limited in our ability to practice our religion, unless it conforms to secular views…unless it is politically correct.  We have learned that our religion must be integrated into our lives.  You have heard from everyone who has ever spoken from this ambo that you can’t just be a Catholic for an hour every Sunday…your faith must be integrated into your life…walk the talk.  Sometimes we can’t even talk the talk.  A valedictorian in Michigan was told last month to rewrite her speech and take out the part where she said God was an important part of her life.  We are not allowed to pray in the public square.  Gender politics is granted more voice than religious liberty.  That is the environment we find ourselves in…and brothers and sisters we are not controlling the rudder or the sails on this boat of ours. 

 Our founding fathers wanted tolerance and religious liberty, we have the opposite, intolerance and limited religious freedom.    God no longer tells us what is best for us, the government does…Government knows best, unless it is being run by God fearing, anti-abortionist reactionaries.   Freedom of Religion has been replaced by Freedom from religion.  Freedom from moral and religious truth rather than freedom relative to truth. 

Is anyone else here old enough (besides me) to remember the NFL player Jim Marshall?  He retired in 1979 but still holds the record for the most recovered fumbles.  One of those, however, he picked up and ran 66 yards the wrong way.  He heard people cheering but didn’t realize they were cheering for the other team. 

I only mention this because it is symbolic of our culture.  We have fumbled the ball…and picked it up and are running as hard as we can the wrong way.  We think we are doing great because we hear cheers…we just don’t realize it is the devil cheering. 

Speaking of heroes, Reverend Dr Martin Luther King has become a forgotten man.  His message of forgiveness and inclusivity has been replaced by exclusivity and identity politics.  I would like to add one of his quotes to this homily, “There comes a time when our silence becomes betrayal, and we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”  Brothers and sisters, we have been silent too long. 

Modern developments in oceanography continue to reveal the great wonders of the sea, the ocean is at once serene and terrifying.  The stormy sea is a theme throughout today’s readings and responsorial psalm.  Courage and trust in the lord will calm the storm waters in our life as we are told in the Gospel. 

We are in the midst of a stormy sea…a sea of denial of the truth and much like sailors from the beginning of time through the ages until now the rudder must be steered and the sails must be set, or we will  

be crashed on the rocks of false gods and political expediency.   

We need heroes to protect our right to worship 

Where are our heroes in this time, where are our martyrs…those willing to sacrifice their political lives, for the truth?  

Where are those political heroes in this country who really pray the Lord’s prayer…THY will be done…and then act upon it? 

Where are those heroes in this parish who are willing to take that extra step, to embrace the living truth of sacrifice and service symbolized by the Cross…those willing to take that extra effort…to not be shy or ashamed of their faith and vocally and actively be disciples of Christ.   

This is our time to be heroes. Can you be one?

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