Father George William Rutler Homilies

2019-07-14 - 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time

July 14, 2019

14 July 2019

15th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Luke 10:25-37 + Homily

19 Minutes 30 Seconds

Link to the Readings:


(New American Bible, Revised Edition)

From the parish bulletin:

   Centenarians are not as rare as they used to be, and one can profit from their memories. In California I spoke with a woman who had traveled there from Missouri in a covered wagon. I visited another woman in a retirement home who was among the first to hear her English professor at Wellesley College, Katharine Lee Bates, read a poem she had written on her vacation in Colorado: “America the Beautiful.” 

   While the adage obtains, that those who do not know their history are condemned to repeat it, there also is evidence that those who do not know their history can be fooled. “Bastille Day” is the celebration of a myth. Propagandists, and later romanticizers like Victor Hugo and Charles Dickens, made the storming of the prison the first thrust of liberators. The Bastille was far from a fetid torture chamber, and its inmates numbered only seven on July 14, 1789. The Marquis de Sade had been transferred to a lunatic asylum ten days earlier, but while in the Bastille, his rooms were elegantly furnished. The other inmates, including four forgers and two more mental patients, one of whom had a personal chef, were reluctant to be set free. Yet the myth perdures, and the key to the Bastille now hangs in Mount Vernon, the proud gift of the Marquis de Lafayette.

   It takes a skilled propagandist to airbrush the Reign of Terror, but it has been done many times, not least of all by our own Thomas Jefferson. When the Cathedral of Notre Dame burned this year, there was much misinformation about its history. In the Revolution it was ransacked, most of its treasures looted, 28 statues of the Kings of Judah decapitated, the whole building desecrated as a Temple of Reason with a woman of ill repute dancing as a goddess on its high altar, and images of saints replaced by busts of such luminaries as Voltaire and Benjamin Franklin. Part of the lead roof was melted to make bullets, and only a gothic revival movement, animated by Victor Hugo’s story of Quasimodo, prevented the ravaged shrine from being totally demolished. It was astonishing, then, to read an essay by the estimable  philosopher, Sir Roger Scruton, at the time of the recent fire in which he said of the revolutionaries: “Nobody at the time could bring himself to lay desecrating hands on the cathedral, apart from a few ruffians who beheaded a saint or two, thinking them to be kings.” As Horace said, even Homer nods; but such insouciance about such a clash of cultures, especially among those who are considered spokesmen for classical verities, is worse than nodding and is more like a coma.

   The Gospel is Good News and not Fake News, because it is real and not malleable putty in the hands of theorists. “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have touched, concerning the word of life. . .” (1 John 1:1).

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