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Where Are You?

By Fr. Robert J. Carr
©Catholic Online 2005

This homily is the first that is the product of the Homily Preparation Group I hold starting last Monday here at St. Benedict's in Somerville, MA. As you know, I may use all, some or none of what comes out of the meeting. Here I will use some.

As we were discussing the first reading, someone notice an image: Moses humble before God inviting God to be with the people even if He finds favor with him. The prophet invites God to join he and the Jews, but notice he warns that his people are a stiff necked. People.

That is a powerful image where we see people in two places. One is down at the bottom of the mountain. We learn later that they are in revelry. The other is at the top of the mountain, humble before God. Our choice everyday is where do we want to be.


Remember Moses is humble before the Lord, He is quite aware he is in the presence of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. He is in communication with the greatest being in the Universe, indeed, the source of all being. Moses has the experience to be in His presence, but that is because he is a humble man who has humbled himself in order that he may be God's servant.

Why is he there? He is there to get a new set of stone tablets, he smashed the others when the people went into revelry going so far as to build an idol--a golden calf. Moses returns humbly as the servant of God he is asking for one more chance for his people.

We have the decision always in our lives, whom will we be; Moses humble before God or the people in revelry.


I have learned some terrible things this week. You may know that at a Brookline, MA school a graphic pamphlet which teaches one about different forms of gay sex and even gives a list of gay bars in the area was made available to school children. The organization distributing the pamphlet claims it was an error, give that the credibility you desire. Yet, the organization publishing the pamphlet raises some eyebrows. This material is filled with exactly the same teachings our media claims that were perpetrated by some of our priests. The publisher of the pamphlet is an organization in the city well known. Its object originally was to stop AIDS. The founder of that organization was one of the protesters outside the Cathedral of the Holy Cross seeking to run out Cardinal Law for not putting a stop to those priests. It gets worse.

That organization which preaches that message is funded in part by a local television station. The CEO of that television station was the first to call for Cardinal Law's resignation. Now that station is funding an organization that preaches the same message as the priest for whom they ran out Cardinal Law. It gets worse. The CEO of that station has used his facilities to promote Voice of the Faithful bringing even more doubt of the legitimacy of the organization of which there is really none. It gets worse. He is also a trustee on one of our charitable agencies in the Catholic Church.

So these people actively running out Cardinal Law are now actually guilty of doing the exact same thing they claim he did.

That is an abomination.


Look about you and see the revelry and the stiff-necked people. Look within ourselves and see where we are not living the faith to the level to which we are called. See how much we as a community are more and more like the people at the bottom of the mountain when Moses smashed the tablets than we are at all like Moses at the top of the mountain whom we are called to emulate.

Whom do we follow?

There are choices we need to make in our lives now even more than before.

Yet, first we need to look at what things have to change in our Church. We need to make the decision whether we will be in revelry or whether we will be like Moses humbly in the presence of the mystery of the Holy Trinity that is God.


One of the realities that keep our economies going is something called usury. Usury, I am sure you know, is lending money at interest. It is forbidden in the bible. Now all of us probably know why, we need only look at our credit card bills and we can be aware of the enslaving element of usury. However, let's step back for a minute. Usury is also done on an international level. You can visit some countries that are so enslaved in debt that they are not able to care for their people. They are also only able to pay the interest on the loans and not principle. The people suffer. That is the problem with usury. That is why it is forbidden in the bible.


If you read the book of Amos you will see the powerful words of social justice, yet it is God's social justice which goes deeper than the human social justice we see in our society today. One of the laments of Amos is that there are people who live sleep on ivory beds while the poor have nothing. What is an ivory bed? You can see one in the Near East exhibit over at the Boston's Museum of Fine Arts. It is actually not a bed made out of ivory, but a wooden bed with ivory inlay.

If God is calling attention to people sleeping on ivory beds while the poor have nothing what would he say about a local Catholic University that charges among the highest tuition in the country, over $42,000? How is that Catholic. There are many there that will call for rights of various people and living wages of others, fine. However, true justice begins in the true Catholic tradition. $42,000 in tuition then you add fees and books and expenses and you are probably approaching close $45,000-50,000 a year. That is approaching $200,000 for a four-year education in a Catholic college. That is .2 Million dollars. If one pays that kind of money to a secular college, that is no better, but you are still not paying that to a Catholic institution. Further, if you want to continue your education to be a lawyer or whatever, now that $.2 million dollars increases even more.

Why do people pay that kind of money? Prestige, and with that prestige comes the opportunity for a better job. Indeed, one attitude of the school is that if people want to go to this school they will find the money. None of this is a Catholic mentality.

See the problem is again, how can you be mindful of the poor if you have to pay off the loans on that kind of money once you graduate. Further, if you pay that money to go to school then your children will be paying even more money to go to school. Meanwhile, the people, not just the richest, but all the people need good lawyers, they need doctors, they need compassionate businessmen and they need a school that has that vision in their operation.


We do not stop there. Do you know that there are more people in jail in the US than in any other country on Earth? That means you have a greater chance of ending up in jail in the US than any other country. People complain about illegal immigration. How much of a mess are some of the countries of those people who risk life and limb to cross the Rio Grande if they are entering the nation where they have the greatest chance of ending up in jail. What is wrong with our country that this is a reality and how do we reverse that trend. There is nothing Catholic about supporting a system that creates such a huge jail population.

Need I say anything about the travesty of abortion, the death penalty and euthanasia? There is another part of this element that I have never announced publicly. It is time to do so.


Since about 1998 people within the Catholic community in different parts of the Archdiocese, the country and even the hemisphere have noticed something quite disturbing. In their prayer, their bible reading and their daily living they have seen that our country, particularly this area, The Northeast, that we are living in a way quite similar to those societies in the bible who were warned by the prophets they were in danger, they needed to repent. Some may dismiss those words as biblical; that is a mistake. Yet, still the words are also historical. Those who do not remember their history are condemned to repeat it. Those people who have noticed this reality have been praying for the people, "God be merciful to them."

You see there are those people in other non-Christian faiths who believe they are agents of God's judgement. That is not Catholicism. We are agents of God's mercy, his justice as well, not his judgement. Our call is to be people humble before the Lord that God may find favor with us, that we may go out and serve his people.

If we are buying into the philosophy of revelry, we can do nothing for the people. Yet, if we are on the mountain before the Lord we can pray for the people and be prophets to them. This is our call.

It is time for us to evaluate whom we are in relationship to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and deepen our ability to be like Moses before God. We need to more deeply seek to do his will that he may find favor with us. We can then be prophets to a stiff-necked people who otherwise would be totally lost.


Catholicism Anew MA, US
Fr. Robert J. Carr - parochial vicar, 617 625-0029



Tuition, Hippocracy, Moses, Revelry, Service

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