Why spend money on what is not bread? - Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)

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Home > Archbishop > Homilies > Why spend money on what is not bread? - Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)

“Why spend money on what is not bread, your wages on what fails to satisfy?”

The words of the prophet have particular meaning for us in our time. We are living in a time when Western society is separating itself from its foundations in Christianity. It is no longer spending its money on what truly sustains human life. It is no longer investing itself in what truly nourishes human existence.

Cardinal Ratzinger was acutely aware of this and addressed it on many occasions. At a lecture given in Subiaco, the birthplace of Benedictine monasticism, on the day before Pope John Paul II died - 1 April 2005 - he said,

Europe has developed a culture that, in a manner unknown before now, excludes God from the public conscience, either by denying him altogether or by judging that his existence is not demonstrable, uncertain, and therefore belongs to the realm of subjective choices – something, in any case, irrelevant to public life.

This is what we are witnessing in our own society. God is considered irrelevant to public life.

Public debate on social issues is now driven not by morality or even a search for truth. Nothing is true or good in itself. The legislation for social change is based on the will of the majority often skilfully manipulated by media campaigns, and most often inspired by personal feelings.

This is what we now face as we begin once again, for the fourth time in Tasmania, to debate the introduction of assisted suicide. It is ironic that we have gone to extraordinary lengths to protect society against the spread of the coronavirus, and yet our government could approve and indeed support people choosing to take their own lives.

In an interview with the National Secular Lobby, Mike Gaffney, who is proposing this bill to legalise assisted suicide, asserted that “the decision-making of the state and the possible influence of the Church should always remain separate”. More broadly of religion he said that “no religious group should feel as though they should be able to influence policy making in Australia”.

His words represent a view that religion should be a private matter and has no place in contributing to public discourse. The very principal of democracy is that all individuals, groups and associations are entitled to freely participate in the political process. All Australians should be able to seek to influence the outcome of public policy according to their deeply held beliefs.

Mike Gaffney himself has deeply held beliefs which are driving his determination to ensure that this bill is successful. He is devoting all his energy to this mission of his.

The prophet declared: “Why spend money on what is not bread, your wages on what fails to satisfy?”

These words ring out in a society which has denied a place for God not only in the life of the individual but in the society as well. Can we have a secular society which is entirely devoid of a recognition of God? No. Can we have a society which denies the existence of the moral? No.

Once God is removed from human life, morality disappears. Once God is removed from society, relativism flourishes and very rapidly becomes dogmatism. Laws have been already enacted in Tasmania which deny the right of individual conscience. Doctors are required to refer for abortion.

The insistence on the rights of some groups leads to the denial of the rights of others. In the name of freedom for some, freedom of others is rejected.

The godless society diminishes the dignity of the human person and denies human freedom. Pope St John Paul II rightly taught that the eclipse of God will lead to the eclipse of man.

The prophet issues the cry of God to a wayward humanity: “Pay attention, come to me, listen and your soul will live.” Each human life finds its true meaning only in and through a relationship with the living God. Every human society must have a spiritual underpinning if it is to protect the freedom of its citizens.

This struggle against the introduction of assisted suicide is not only about protecting human life, it is about preserving the truth of the nature of human life.

It is only when a person seeks and finds God that their soul will live. It is only when a society accepts that its foundation is ultimately spiritual and not just material that it can truly respect the dignity and freedom of its citizens.

The prophet reminds us that to only be focused on the external and material will never satisfy the longing of the human heart. The word of the prophet rings out as Tasmania once again debates whether it will support assisted suicide.

Archbishop Julian Porteous
Sunday, August 2, 2020

Watch the livestream of the Mass here.