My Dear Sisters and Brothers! We can identify ourselves with the situation captured by St Matthew in today’s Gospel. Ours is the society which also makes it challenging to preserve and treasure true faith. However as we accept the message coming from the Scriptures this Sunday we find strength that in the midst of circumstances silencing the voice of God Peter still professed his faith in Jesus Christ ‘the Son of the Living God.’ He did this because God, Jesus Christ, was there. The secular society we live in may shout loudly ‘God is dead’ as Friedrich Nietzsche first put it 135 years ago. But then it is our call as Christians to complete the statement announcing by our words and actions: ‘God is risen.’ Jesus is risen and active even in the midst of the society which invests its energy no to see him and to silence or ridicule those who say: ‘We have seen the Lord.’
As I mentioned before Caesarea Philippi wasn’t an easy place to believe in one God as the Scriptures proclaim him, but it was a good introduction to the Apostles who soon would have to go all over the world to proclaim the Good News. If they did go to the ends of the world it was because they believed the promise of the Risen Lord: ‘I am with you always. Yes until the end of time.’ Why did Jesus give such a strong guarantee to his disciples? Because he entrusted them with a task ‘to teach all the nations to observe all the commandments I gave you.’
Once again we are called to do that in the debate which is happening here in Australia about changing the definition of the marriage. Some of the gay activists and politicians were saying that it shouldn’t be taken to the plebiscite because gay and lesbians would be hurt by those who believe that marriage is a union between a man and a woman only. Did you pick up that this statement implies that upholding the traditional marriage hurts some people? In fact what we have seen so far is that those who push to change the definition of marriage call others bigots, intolerant, etc. I get that some people disagree with the Catholic Church. I respect that. However I disagree that I am cruel, lacking compassion and love, because I am convinced that marriage can be only between a woman and a man.
My Dear Friends! As we are taken by the Lord Jesus to the beautiful Caesarea Philippi and hear the first Pope to profess faith in Christ I would like to bring into this homily the voice of our Peter, Pope Francis who voiced that the family, as an institution based on marriage between a man and a woman, is not a political cause but a matter of ‘human ecology.’ He made this message when he was working on the Encyclical Letter Laudato Si, on care for our common home. Today when we are so keen on ecology, the Holy Father acknowledged that ecology is not only about gumtrees, koalas, dolphins, Great Barrier Reef, air or water pollution. It is also about protecting who we are as humans being created as male or female. It is about ‘the complementarity between man and woman, which is the root of the marriage and family’ as he put it. Then in a prophetic way he said: ‘Although the human race has come to understand the need to address conditions that menace our natural environments, we have been slower to recognize that our fragile social environments, like marriage and family, are also at risk. It is therefore essential that we foster a new human ecology.’
In the current debate which uses terms like marriage equality or human rights of gay people to marry the voice of children is not heard. Why the voice of people who have been raised by the same sex couples and who witness to being deprived of having mother and father is silenced in this debate? Pope Francis hasn’t been deaf to that cry as he said: ‘Children have a right to grow up in a family with a father and a mother capable of creating a suitable environment for the child’s development and emotional maturity.’
Every single person of this planet was conceived by a man and a woman. Two men cannot conceive a child. Two women cannot conceive a child either. We also know that conception is not the end of the mother and the father to their child’s upbringing. Both of them, mother and father are needed as the child grows up.
My Dear fellow believers! The postal vote you will soon receive is not the only way to speak up for ‘human ecology.’ In our own Caesarea Philippi here in Australia the Lord Jesus asks us to share with others what we believe and stand for. Probably you won’t get an appreciation certificate for that but you will bring the Good News to this community of ours called Australia.