Homily: God Doesn’t Need Autocorrect

October 4, 2015 – Twenty-Seventh Sunday of Ordinary Time

Homily delivered at St. Pius X Parish in Indianapolis:

I would like to share a few thoughts on the Autocorrect feature on my phone. For those who may be unfamiliar with Autocorrect, allow me to explain:

The role of this electronic feature, in theory, is to alert you when you have made an error while typing a text, and display for you the most likely choice for what you meant to say.

It seems quite capable of catching minor errors. For instance, I typed capital “I”, lower case “m” at the beginning of a sentence, leaving out the apostrophe. Autocorrect alerted me, and offered, “I-apostrophe-m” as an alternative. If I accept that alternative, I simply keep typing and it will automatically make the change for me. Thanks, Autocorrect!

In reality, the majority of the time that Autocorrect has attempted to “help” me, it has simply offered a different error than the one I made myself.

Example #2: In my haste to type the word because, I mixed up the order of several letters. Autocorrect was on the job, so it offered me the alternative of: bacon slice.

No, Autocorrect, in my correspondence with Fr. Jim about weekend Masses, I did not intend to write, bacon slice.

Generally what happens is that you are typing so quickly and hitting “Send” that many text messages are sent out with new, ridiculous errors instead of the simple ones you made on your own.

Case in point: Carol took some students to Washington, DC to see Pope Francis. She arrived home at 3:00 a.m. last Friday morning. The car she had rented for the trip needed to be returned by noon, so she wanted me to call her at 11:00 to make sure she was awake.

I called her at 11:00. No answer. I called her every 10 minutes after that…no answer.

Finally, at 12:15 I received a text from Carol. What she intended to text to me was: I’m awake. Need keys to get in the house.

Instead, the message she sent said: I’m awake. Need keys. Tiger in the house.

Well, that certainly explained why Carol wasn’t answering her phone. A tiger in the house can keep a person pretty busy.

So what’s the connection? Through His Son, Jesus, God sent us His message of unconditional love for all.

That message resonates this weekend as the Archdiocese celebrates Respect Life Sunday.

St. John Paul II once said: “The deepest element of God’s commandment is the requirement to show reverence and love for every person and the life of every person.”

Respecting life means offering love and acceptance to all.

However, over the years it seems we have taken it upon ourselves to act as God’s autocorrect. We often change His message to something He never intended, perhaps to make it more manageable.

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We respect life, so we are entrenched in the battle against abortion.

Do we also love, pray for, and welcome women who have, for whatever reason, made the decision to have an abortion?

If not, aren’t we taking it upon ourselves to change God’s message?

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We respect life, so we take time to visit the imprisoned; but acting as God’s autocorrect, we determine that others in prison are deserving of the death penalty.

When we advocate for that, aren’t we taking it upon ourselves to change God’s message?

Respecting life means offering love and acceptance to all.

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We donate money to the poor, but are we comfortable making eye contact with them or inviting them into our home?

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We respect all life, so we know that the elderly deserve our love and attention, but we’re just so busy.

Respecting life means offering love and acceptance to all.

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We can even use the strong message Jesus shared about marriage as an example.

Throughout the gospels, including today’s reading from Mark, Jesus presented a certain vision for human relationships, including within marriage.

However, He never condemned those who fell short of that vision. Divorce does not make either party in the broken marriage less valuable, or less worthy of dignity and respect. Thanks to Pope Francis, the Church has made it clear that divorced Catholics, “are not to be treated as second class citizens.”

Respecting life means offering love and acceptance to all.

As for myself, I support marriage, I prepare couples for marriage, and I preach about marriage; yet I know I often take my own marriage for granted.

Who am I to act as God’s autocorrect?

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Starting tomorrow, bishops from around the world will be gathering to discuss ways to promote and support healthy family life. The bishops will not be attempting to correct God’s message of unconditional love.

We all know of family units that are dysfunctional or have disintegrated, and still others that are non-traditional in their make-up. Members of those families will not be deemed less valuable by the bishops, or less worthy of love and respect.

They, too, fall under the banner of “reverence and love for every person.”

In my role as a school administrator and deacon, I have often spoken about and written about what is needed to ensure a strong family unit, yet I have often fallen short as a father myself.

Who am I to act as God’s autocorrect?

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As followers of Jesus Christ, we are forever in pursuit of the elusive ideals with which He has challenged us. We do our best; we stumble and fall; and we start over, hoping one day to fully embrace the vision Jesus has for us.

In spite of our struggles, God loves us unconditionally. He never wavers from His simple message of love for every person.

Others around us will stumble and fall, and will need to start over in the hope of attaining the vision Jesus has for them.

If we truly respect life, we will love them all.

We do not need to support, promote, or condone all human behavior, but we are called to love and accept all human beings.

God calls us to show reverence and love for every person…and the life of every person.

His message is just fine as it is; God does not need autocorrect.

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