Our God is a god of relationships

Readings: Hosea 6.3-6; Ps. 50; Rom. 4.18-25; Mt. 9.9-13.

Our God is a god of relationships. Jesus sums up the 613 Old Testament laws with one teaching: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. [And] You shall love your neighbor as yourself." (Mk. 12.31)

When Jesus entered human history, the Jews were offering animal sacrifices. Many societies have believed in the worth of animal sacrifices to placate their god. This practice continues to this day. When I was in Israel, I visited Samaria, which lies in the middle third of Israel between Galilee in the north and Judea in the south. At Samaria, worshipers of Baal still offer bulls to their god. When I was working in Brooklyn, New York, someone killed a chicken and hung it on a tree outside my office window as some kind of voodoo curse. Some of the local people were frightened as to what might happen to me.

Our God is a god of relationships. Our God is not pleased by animal sacrifices. In the gospel today, Jesus states unequivocably: "I desire mercy, not sacrifice," i.e., animal sacrifice. In the Responsorial Psalm, we read of God asking, "Do I eat the flesh of strong bulls, or is the blood of goats my drink?" The Psalmist continues, "Offer to God praise as your sacrifice, and fulfill your vows to the Most High." And in the first reading, the prophet Hosea writes on behalf of God, "It is love that I desire, not sacrifice; and knowledge of God, rather than holocausts." Our God is a god of relationships.

Relationship. We hear that word oftentimes today. How would you define it? How would you describe it?

Relevant to relationships here in Maryland, the state's General Assembly just passed two bills, which the governor signed into law equating domestic partnership and marriage. Domestic partners in Maryland are defined this way, and I quote from Archbishop O'Brien in this week's Catholic Review: "any two people who are not related by marriage or blood, who affirm they are in a 'relationship of mutual interdependence,' and who demonstrate their interdependence by jointly renting a car, leasing an apartment, or opening a checking account." That is the superficiality of the proof which one needs to certify oneself as in a domestic partnership. Now in Maryland, same- sex couples and unmarried opposite-sex couples can claim the legal equivalency of marriage. Ten years ago, the state of California took the step that Maryland just took. This past week, the Supreme Court of California declared that it is unconstitutional to say that marriage is between one man and one woman. The court reasoned that if domestic partners and married partners have the same rights and benefits, then it is unreasonable to say that marriage is only between one man and one woman. Where will Maryland be ten years from now?

Dear friends, our state of Maryland, and our country are on a slippery slope. Marriage and family life serve as pillars for the foundation of society; marriage and family life are regarded as the nucleus of society. With the further weakening of the concept and practice of marriage and family life through this action, our state government has acted in ways contrary to the teachings of Scripture and the Catholic Church. The first book of the Bible says, "God made them male and female," that they might be partners to help each other. The Church teaches that the purpose of married life is both unitive and procreative. Same-sex people living together as if in same-sex marriage do not enjoy the male-female complementarity physically, emotionally, and psychologically Is this discrimination? No. Because somebody votes against Barak Obama, is that voter automatically racist? Because somebody chooses to vote against Hillary Clinton, is that voter automatically sexist? Because someone votes against John McCanin, is that an act of age discrimination? And because our 2,000 year old church opposes same-sex marriage are we discriminatory? No way. We are protecting the inspired Word of God, the tradition of thousands of years of human history, and the laws of the Church which Jesus founded.

What do we say to people who support domestic partnerships? I pray for them: "May God help you, and us." For the past two hundred years, certain philosophical movements have wished to eliminate from society all mention of God and subsequent practice of religion. They are destroying the soul of Christian society. In the case of domestic partnerships, they are destroying the nucleus and foundation of human society.

Where will it end? As Jesus says of the scribes and Pharisees, can we not say of the cultural and political promoters of same-sex marriage, you are "blind guides." Their error lies in their starting point: they have asked not what has God created, but what does man wish to create. These promoters and politicians have a false understanding of the principle of equality; they have lost their understanding of metaphysics. They have opted for faulty reasoning in place of true faith in God.

What might we Catholics do to stand up for God's teachings, for the Church's teachings, for universal humanity? May I suggest that we form in St. Joseph Parish a committee to inform the entire congregation about pending legislation which affects public moral issues, and to advise us about how we might express our Catholic viewpoint in the public political forum. I am looking for a couple of people who can provide leadership in this way. The goal is to inform about, and to encourage to action, the congregation of St. Joseph Church. I am looking for neither conservative nor liberal people. I am looking for neither Democrats nor Republicans. I am looking for good Catholics who can transcend party affiliations and political orientations to research topics, inform, and inspire the congregation to effective Christian action.

We know clearly from the Scriptures and Church teachings that our God was not pleased by animal sacrifices. We know clearly from the same Scriptures and relevant Church teachings that God is not pleased by domestic partnerships. Our society and many of our political leaders suffer from lack of common sense, a lack of historical sense, and from lack of Christian faith. My prayer is: "May God help us all." Let's take action, individually and communally, to convert our society and political leaders to Jesus, Jesus' truth, and Jesus' way.

Read other homilies by Father O'Malley