Protecting the Image of God:

A Homily by Rev. James Clark



On Sunday, November 12, 2000, Fr. Jim Clark celebrated the 12:00 p.m. Tridentine Mass at Holy Trinity. On this Sunday the old Roman calendar observed the XXII Sunday after Pentecost, which features the famous Gospel passage in which Christ, taking a denarius with Caesar's image on it, tells the Pharisees to render unto Caesar what is Caesar's and to render unto God what is God's. It also happened to be the Sunday after the presidential election. In his homily Fr. Clark used this opportunity to remind us of our solemn obligations as Catholic Christians in supporting pro-life political candidates and in fostering a pro-life culture. At least one person took notes on the homily, and later presented them to Fr. Clark. Fr. Clark has approved the overall accuracy of the paraphrase, which we include here below.


"I should begin by acknowledging that what I'm about to say here today might get me into trouble. However, unlike some here in the South End who have recently been 'pushing the envelope,' you can be sure that when I push it, I push it closer to Peter. And, unlike those unnamed others, I am willing to stand up and accept responsibility for what I say and do.

"This past Tuesday, we had a presidential election in our country. With one of the two major candidates obviously and vocally in support of so-called 'abortion rights,' it saddened me tremendously to see that he received about 50% of the popular vote. But it horrified me to see a poll taken after the election that stated that he received the electoral support of over 50% of voters who identified themselves as Catholics!

"While we may rightly disagree over the basic issues that divide the two major parties -- issues that come down to principles of governmental style -- we may not, as Catholics, disagree about the sanctity of human life. We Catholics affirm that all human life is sacred, that we are formed in the image and likeness of our Creator, and that we may not deface that image in any way. We certainly affirm that innocent human life in the womb is worthy of protection.

"Let us make man to our own image and likeness" (Gen. 1.26)

"Since the Vice President has clearly stated that he supports the so-called 'right' of a woman to control her body, to the point that he supports de-facto infanticide through partial-birth abortion, as Catholics we have to question his ability to think clearly. As Catholics, we have to assume that he has either a poorly-formed conscience or is voluntarily cooperating in evil.

"For a long time now, I have been quite clear that, regardless of any other positions of a candidate, his or her stance on abortion gives us a clear rationale for voting for or against him or her. A candidate who 'enthusiastically supports a woman's right to choose' -- or even one who accepts such a so-called 'right' engages in material cooperation in evil. We cannot vote for him or her for any elective office, not even for dogcatcher. I know that, in this, I'm 'preaching to the choir' here.

"I'm sure that this congregation, at least, is clear on this concept. Recently, though, as I've read the Book of Revelation, I've become even more aware of St. John's admonition against 'accepting the mark of the Beast.' In light of today's Gospel, in which Our Lord tells His listeners to 'render unto Ceasar that which is Ceasar's, and unto God that which is God's,' and in which He identifies as Ceasar's that which bears his mark, I am led to wonder whether the mark with which all of us were stamped at our conception, the mark with which we were all given at Baptism, is still evident on my soul, or whether it has been rubbed out or made illegible by my acceptance of other marks.


A denarius (with the image of Tiberius Caesar), circa A.D. 30

"I say this because I've become more and more aware of the ways in which I have accepted abortion as a fact in our society. I know, for example, that myself and other priests and religious are often intimidated about replying to people we know or hear when they make casual remarks supporting so-called abortion rights. Perhaps because of fear, perhaps because of fatigue, we allow others to say things that we know aren't true and thus perpetuate the culture of death in which we live. Perhaps you, too, have found yourself in a similar situation. Perhaps you,

also, have kept quiet when your neighbor or co-worker has made a patently false statement about abortion. Maybe you have read a piece in the local paper, or received an email supporting abortion in some way, and rather than speaking up, have remained silent.

"I worry that this silence, this fear of speaking against the prevailing culture of death, is in fact acceptance of abortion. I fear that I, through my silence and reticence on occasion, have been as guilty of material or formal cooperation with evil as have those who actually voted for those who facilitate the procuring of abortions.

"Therefore, I think we can easily add a further moral demand on those who, like us, have properly formed their consciences. I think we can safely say that, for those of us who know better, keeping silent in the face of pro-abortion forces and even when confronted with the ever-popular 'I'm personally opposed, but....' people -- we are in danger of committing mortal sin. When we do not reject the 'mark of the beast,' we are in some way accepting it.

"I don't know about you, but I tremble at the thought of being face to face with my Maker. When Christ, the Judge of the end times, holds my soul in the palm of His hand as He once held that coin from the Pharisess, and when he peers at it, I wonder if He will be able to discern His own image and inscription on it. I tremble to think that His image has been so defaced by my acceptance of evil and by the mark of the beast that He might well reject me as not His own."


Scrapbook of Celebration

Parish Home Page | Latin Mass Homepage