Today’s Readings in US Roman Catholic masses include those from the 2nd Book of Samuel, Chapter 12; Paul’s letter to the Galatians, Chapter 2; and the final part of Chapter 7 in the Gospel According to Luke.
These passages will be read less than 24 hours after 49 people were killed by Omar Mateen, a lone gunman who executed a terrorist attack on a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida. In today’s Gospel in particular, Jesus recounts the story of a woman who had sinned greatly but who continuously kisses him and anoints his feet with oil, showing him great love, despite the sins of her past, and through her love is forgiven. Mr Mateen was shot by police and died before he could be questioned as to motive, but Christian pastors have, even in the short time since the killing, been quick to judge the murder of homosexual people in this way righteous:
Pastor Roger Jimenez at Verity Baptist Church in Sacramento, California, said, referring to homosexuals, “I wish the government would round them all up, put them up against a firing wall, put a firing squad in front of them, and blow their brains out.” Pastor Steven Anderson of Faithful Word Baptist Church in Tempe, Arizona, referred to a different Old Testament passage, Leviticus 20:13, in calling on homosexuals to be put to death: “Obviously, it’s not right for somebody to just, you know, shoot up the place, because that’s not going through the proper channels. But these people all should have been killed anyway, but they should have been killed through the proper channels. … They should have been executed by a righteous government that would have tried them, convicted them and saw them executed.”
If a man has sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They are to be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads. (Leviticus)
These are extremist Christian views, to be sure, views that not even Jesus would endorse. For as we heard today, he himself forgave the “great sins” of one woman “because she had shown great love.” (Luke 7)
Even in the Old Testament readings of today, we see forgiveness, not punishment by putting people to death (2 Samuel 12:13):
Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD.”
Nathan answered David: “The LORD on his part has forgiven your sin: you shall not die.”
So-called Christians among us cannot continue to preach both God’s Word and hate crimes. To do so is ultimately hypocritical and would not find support in any of Jesus’ words, as reported in the Gospel according to Luke and elsewhere.
Bishop Robert Lynch, a Roman Catholic leader in Florida, wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post, proclaiming what ought to be the message coming from all of humanity:
Those women and men who were mowed down Sunday were all made in the image and likeness of God. We teach that. We should believe that. We must stand for that.
Sadly, there are extreme Christians, extreme Muslims, and extreme atheists among us who would, apparently, take an assault rifle into a nightclub filled with people and open fire. Mr Mateen, the terrorist, obtained his guns legally, although he was reportedly investigated by the FBI for terror-related activity. What people who have done this sort of thing have in common is hate: that is the true enemy, not homosexuality, Islam, Christianity, atheism, or any other “ism” out there.
Respond with love, and anoint the feet of the one who comes to your door. All your great sins will be forgiven in God’s eyes. And for heaven’s sake, stop hiding behind the Second Amendment. The apostle Paul told us today, “I do not nullify the grace of God; for if justification comes through the law, then Christ died for nothing.”
To all the idiot pastors out there: The Constitution is the “law” and it has nothing to do with God’s grace. Live in the Lord, and the rest will become clear: Take these guns, designed solely for the rapid killing of several human beings, made in the image of God, off the street. They belong with military personnel who are adequately trained in how to use them and certified in their safe handling on a regular basis.