Lent III - Personal Conversion
This past Sunday's Gospel is known, as our Homilist said, as the warning Gospel. It has two parts: the question of whether disasters are a sign of disfavor from God and the parable of the fig tree. Usually people focus on the fig tree, which has both Lenten and anti-Semitic overtones having to do with converting before it is too late. As a seasonal Gospel, the entire message is to use the season for personal conversion while it is still going on (although, in reality, personal conversion should happen anytime it is necessary).
America Magazine reported yesterday on Glen Beck's latest tirade, where he said that if your church preaches social justice, you should leave. Of course, the Catholic Church is big on social justice, so my advice to Catholics is to ignore Glen Beck, even if that requires personal conversion to a more progressive ideology. Indeed, conversion from personal sins is but the basic requirement for salvation. The heaving lifting is conversion from economic sin. This is especially necessary if you are economically comfortable - and if you are reading these words on other than a public library computer - the chances are that you are very comfortable. Even if you are using a public computer - chances are you are richer than most of the world. If you are one of my Washington, DC area readers, this is especially the case.
The social Gospel is about more than personal charity, however, it is about systems of charity. The most blatant of these is health care reform. Indeed, this change also conforms with a seamless Gospel of Life. Indeed, given that the Senate bill contains mechanisms to make it "abortion neutral" (and then some), supporting HCR is the best thing one can do to bring about this Gospel, since avoiding the costs of pediatric care is one reason people get abortions. Expanding Medicaid to the working poor will save people from making the choice between $300 for an abortion and the much higher cost of pediatric visits in the first week of life (we had three after we bought Catie home from the hospital - with three such visits equally, interestingly enough, $300 if we had not had insurance). This assumes the Project Gabriel funds all obstetric costs. Families don't abort because pregnancy is expensive, they do so because children are. Instances of charity are not enough to stop abortion - changing the economic system is - and this requires personal conversion to see.
For those of you who are against such systemic change - may you use Lent well so that you may turn away from your sin (which is much graver than flipping to Internet porn).