Monday, November 18, 2013

Monday of the Thirty-third Week in Ordinary Time

(I Maccabees 1:10-15.41-43.54-57.62-63; Luke 18:35-43)

Last week the bishops of the United States made another appeal to Catholics regarding religious freedom.  The bishops believe that the right of Catholics to practice their faith is being restricted by the federal government’s new health care law.  The law will obligate Catholic agencies and employers to provide insurance for such treatments as contraception, abortifacient drugs and devices, and sterilization.  The bishops feel some of the outrage of the Book of Maccabees in the first reading today.

Maccabees recounts how the Greek king Antiochus Epiphanes imposed pagan customs on the people of Israel.  Claiming the need for national unity, Antiochus violated the Temple and destroyed copies of Sacred Scripture.  According to the reading, the king ordered that Jews disregard their Law which made them God’s holy people.  The story of how good Jews defied the king’s commands will be told for the rest of the week.

Some people claim that the issues involved in the health care act do not force Catholics to give direct support to evil.  But it does mandate complicity in what the Church has judged wrong for centuries.  The bishops are making a stand on a critical principle.  As they say in their statement, they are four square in favor of genuine health care for the poor.  Nevertheless, Catholics and people of other faith traditions  must be allowed not just to go to church on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday but to practice their faith every day of the week.