Our Gospel for the Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time reads, “You are looking for me because you ate the loaves and were filled.” Chick-fil-A is the modern topic of interest, in particular in Reno Nevada. Leviticus 18:22 and Leviticus 20:13 call homosexual behavior between males, “תּוֹעֵבָה,” “Nauseating.” Romans 1:26-27 also speaks of homosexual behavior. Our Catholic encyclical Humanae Vitae casts the practice in negative light, and we have been debating similar issues since Roe V. Wade.
There are three sets of laws in Torah. The first is Genesis 9, the law of Noah. This applies to all humankind. The second set of rules is the Ten Commandments, Exodus 20, and Deuteronomy 5, which include words, “I am the Personal Name your Almighty Judge, who brought you out of the land of Oppression, out of the house of menial labor.” God gave the Jewish community this set of rules to give them identity, to make them Jewish. The third set of rules clarifies the second set and is in Torah to define what being Jewish means. That includes Leviticus as quoted above.
St. Paul gave us a very strong quote in Romans 1:26-27. The problem with quoting St. Paul lies in precisely what St. Paul is trying to say. Romans 1:26-27 begs that we read it as part of a grander whole. In the first section, the section with Romans 1:26-27, St. Paul plays the role of an itinerant minister. “They do this…they do that… they do the other thing…” St. Paul raises the crowd to a fever pitch. “They,” do homosexual behavior… and…and…”
When St. Paul has his audience about to go out, buy that Chick-fil-A sandwich, and lynch someone, he moves to the second/spring of the trap, section. “You are without excuse, every one of you who passes judgment. By the standard by which you judge another, you condemn yourself. You, the judge, do the same things.”
St. Paul is deeply indebted to Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5 and had his own transformational experience. For the Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, St. Paul talks about putting on the new man. That man has undergone a transformational experience and lives by a new set of rules. In Romans 1:5 St. Paul calls this, “Listening to the faith.” Listening to the faith means living past our enslavement in Oppression.” Part of St. Paul’s Jewish tradition alludes to Exodus 1:10, “Let us deal shrewdly with them.” Exodus does not relate what Pharaoh tells the Hebrew people, but the implication comes from prior passages.
Genesis 43:32, “Egyptians may not eat with Hebrews; that is nauseating to them,” just as homosexual behavior is nauseating. Genesis 46:34 relates, “All shepherds are nauseating to the Egyptians,” just as homosexual behavior is nauseating. Pharaoh could abuse the Hebrew people because they were an inferior race and from an inferior vocation in life.
God decides our vocation, not us. In Genesis 47:6, Israel gets the pick of the land. We hear Pharaoh, “We gave you the best of the land; see how your sheep trampled and ruined the land…” Genesis 47:13-26 explains how Joseph reduced the people of Egypt into slavery. Pharaoh must have argued, “See, you did it to us first.”
Listening to the faith means hearing the words of all the bullies through the centuries and saying, “They did this to us, to me.” Their pain becomes our pain; we take action. We celebrate this remembrance in our Gospel and in our Eucharist. We remember being there, personally. We call it the Physical Presence. It is the Physical Presence of Jesus in the Host as he represents the suffering of the Jewish people in Egypt. We take action. The heart of St. Paul’s message is what we do. Do we remember what oppression is like, and take action to prevent others suffering?
Our Gospel for the Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time tells us, “You are looking for me because you ate the loaves and were filled.” Liberals and non-Christians point to our darkened church and ask why people attend such a darkened place.
We attend Mass because we ate the loaves of escape from oppression and our filled. We attend because it is a darkened room, a darkened room with flowers, wine, a meal, and the groom. We are the bride of Christ and Jesus is the groom. The darkened room is a romantic dinner with bride and groom. We set a positive example of listening to our faith, a faith that speaks to rescue!
As we look to the other talking points, we realize they are all over 40 years old. We realize how we keep talking the same talking points and keep getting the same results. We do not heed the warning, “It is insanity to keep doing the same things and expecting different results.” Do we want to resolve our issues, or do we want to win talking points. God calls us to resolve our issues. That means leading by example, so put away the fast food and eat quality food, the body and blood of Jesus Christ.