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Personal Voice: A Catholic Homily That Didn't Make Me Angry
I haven't been keeping track of my own stats, but if I were to estimate I'd say that seven times out of ten, whenever politics enters a Catholic priest's homily -- the celebrant's mid-Mass monologue -- during a mass that I am attending, my blood begins to boil more than a little bit. For the most part, homilies tend to sound very sexist, homophobic, and jingoistic. Verses in the Bible are used to reflect a need for the support of conservative legislation, decrying liberal ideals.
Of course every now and then, the priest might delve into the Sermon on the Mount or other Bible readings and discuss their connection to peace and justice issues. These homilies often reflect a more liberation theology ideal of how to interpret the Bible, and when I am given the opportunity to hear it in a mass I'm attending, I often get overcome with the desire to clench my fist and raise it up in church. Today's homily was one of those homilies.
The mass today marked the celebration of The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. For those that aren't Catholic or those that are Catholic but don't pay attention to what goes on in church, this is the day when we, Catholics, celebrate our cannibal and vampirical nature when we eat Jesus and drink his blood. Protestants got nathan' on us, we're savage when it comes to our devotion and faith.
But what made mass today, at Sacred Heart Church, eventful was when Stockton Diocese Bishop, Stephen E. Blair took the mic and straight ripped it. When the bishop said his piece about the need for the reformation of immigration legislation, in Republicanville, it brings a smile to my social justice seeking ass. The Bishop, not to be confused with Tupac's character from Juice, slammed the failed attempts of Congress to begin legislative immigration reform, slammed the building of a wall to keep immigrants out of America's borders, and slammed the unrecognized work of immigrants by a majority of America's citizenry. These are the passionate words of equality and justice that are so often missing from most Catholic masses that I attend. It almost makes me want to go run up to the Pope and give him daps.
What made this homily even that much more poignant was the fact that it was said in a region known for its extensive Conservative politics. The region, though, contains more of its fair share of undocumented immigrants working the farms that feed the rest of America. I could sense many around me shifting uncomfortably as their conservative and xenophobic political views was being described as contradictory to the social justice ideals of the Catholic Church. It feels good to get the sense that the Church is on my side for once.
From what was said in the homily, immigration is the designated topic for all masses the in California, as decided by the head Bishop. So I'm sure Catholics in other churches will receive the same type of pro-immigration homily that I heard. I know other dioceses have received flack for their aid to undocumented immigrants, such as in Los Angeles. Let us hope that a more proactive Catholic role will begin to take place in regards to supporting progressive immigration reform.
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