Tuesday January 22, 2002 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Second Week in Ordinary Time
Reading (1 Samuel 16:1-13) Gospel (St. Mark 2:23-28)
In both of the readings today we see a similar occurrence. First of all, we see Samuel going into Bethlehem and assuming that Eliab is going to be the anointed of the Lord because of his outward appearance: tall, strong, and handsome. As we heard, the Lord rejected him, as well as six of his younger brothers, and finally chose a youth - one who was not even invited to the feast because he was thought to be so insignificant. Yet, that is the one God chose.
We see at the same time, in the Gospel reading, the Pharisees making judgments regarding the disciples: looking at what was happening externally and making judgments about the interior disposition of the apostles. The Lord, once again, has to chastise them for looking only at the outward things but not at the inward. And so, we need to be able to learn the lesson, that is, to not judge according to what we see. We need to judge the action; we need to be able to say "This thing is right" or "This thing is wrong". But we need to be very, very careful that we do not judge the person, that we do not judge according to appearance, that we do not impute motives, that we do not try to suggest what is in the person's heart if we do not really know what it is. That is a very easy thing for us to fall into, and, sadly, a very common thing for us to fall into. What we need to be able to do is condemn the action or approve the action, depending [on what it is], but be very cautious with regard to the person.
Considering the day, it is something that we need to keep in mind. We need, absolutely and in every circumstance, to condemn the action of abortion. There is never ever a reason why a direct abortion is acceptable - ever. Indirect abortion is acceptable, for instance, if a woman has an ectopic pregnancy because the woman is not going in to try to kill the baby. The doctor, rather, has to cut out the fallopian tube and as a secondary point the baby will die. But, in that case, both mother and child would have died otherwise. So indirect abortion is sometimes acceptable. Direct abortion is never acceptable and it must always and in every circumstance be condemned.
But what we must be very careful of is our attitude toward the women because we do not know what is in their heart. So we still must handle things with compassion. We must be willing to extend the Lord's mercy and forgiveness. We must condemn the action; we must never judge the person. We do not know what has led the person to that act so we must be very cautious in the way we approach the individual to make sure it is always done with charity, to make sure it is with compassion. Charity does not ever mean to say that it was okay to do something that was wrong; that is not charity. It is not to say: "Well, since I do not know what is in your heart, it is okay for you to do it." Never. We cannot suggest that. But it is to say that when we approach somebody else, we do not try to judge the individual, we do not try to say that this person is doing this for that reason or that this person is evil because this is what is happening. We do not know that. What we need to do is be compassionate toward the women and toward the men who are oftentimes coercing them into this or supporting them through it, and we need to condemn the action.
As Catholic people, we need to be the ones who are going to lead the way, not only toward putting an end to abortion as I talked about on Sunday, but toward bringing about the healing for the victims of abortion. We need to pray for them. We need to be compassionate toward them so that God will be able to work in their lives, that they will find the forgiveness for their sin, that they will find healing for the wound that is there in their hearts, and that they, then, will be able in turn to pray for others and to witness to them so that we can put an end to the holocaust that has been going on in America now for 29 years. The time has come to put an end to this, and it will only happen through prayer. It will only happen through doing things the way that Our Lord would - not taking things into our own hands, not assuming that we know the way to handle it, but to follow the lead of the Lord and to allow Him to be the One to put an end to the death of innocent babies.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.