The NBA All-Star Slam Dunk contest is always better than the game itself.
The game, however, was okay. Kobe could not miss in the third quarter. (I only watched the third quarter.) It is absurd that 265 points were scored in one game. The 192 points scored in the Syracuse-Georgetown game on Saturday set a dangerous precedent.
Shaq went out with a bang. This was Shaquille O’Neal’s last of fifteen N.B.A. All-Star games. (He was voted onto the team fifteen times, even though he didn’t play all fifteen games, due to injuries.) Only Kareem Abdul Jabbar has been voted onto more all-star teams–seventeen.
Today at Holy Mass we heard the account of Cain and Abel from Genesis.
Pope John Paul II based the first chapter of his encyclical on the Gospel of Life on this Scripture passage.
After Cain kills Abel, the Lord calls out to Cain: “The voice of your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground!”
This got me thinking about a couple of things…
I. There are two reasons not to commit sins.
The first reason is that we are made to do good and become virtuous. When we sin, we destroy ourselves, our own potential–our own true best interests.
According to this way of conceiving sin, particular sins are against virtues. Cain sinned against the virtue of justice.
We become the people we are meant to be by giving everyone their due. Cain owed Abel brotherly love and respect. Instead, he killed him, thereby turning himself into an unjust man.
The second reason not to sin is that it displeases God. He has told us what to do and what not to do.
According to this way of reckoning sin, particular sins are against the commandments. Cain sinned against the Fifth Commandment, “Thou shalt not murder.”
(It is true that Cain was born many generations before Moses went up Mt. Sinai. But the divine Law was originally promulgated in the natural law inscribed within us: Do good and avoid evil.)
Ultimately, these two reasons for not commiting sins come together. We glorify God by becoming virtuous. His Law is not arbitrary; we do not have to fear offending Him by accident. What displeases Him is when we do not fulfill our potential for greatness.
II. We take great pride today in our heritage as a nation. Our republic is based on noble ideals. The Lord has given us great leaders who struggled to put these ideals into practice. We have received a great inheritance. We are right to rejoice in it.
Nonetheless, when the Lord calls out: “The voice of your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground,” he is calling out to us, to the people of the United States of America. The abortionist’s knife spills innocent blood on our soil thousands of times every day.
There is no nation with ideas so noble that they can overcome the “demon lurking at the door”–original sin. (Genesis 4:7) Selfishness and blindness can overcome any man; they can overcome any people.
We need the grace of God. We need the light of Christ. We need the zeal of heaven to move us to stand in solidarity with the weak and defenseless.
Which brings us to my main subject…
At the beginning of Shakespeare’s Richard II, King Richard exiles Henry Bolingbroke for six years. While Henry is out of the country, his father, the Duke of Lancaster, dies.
The King immediately confiscates all of the Duke’s wealth for the royal treasury. In other words, Richard steals Bolingbroke’s inheritance.
Henry returns to England in arms. He marches to London, insisting that he comes only for his rightful inheritance. He points out that if it were not for the law of inheritance, the king would not be the king—he himself received the crown as an inheritance.
Henry’s own ambition eventually overcomes him, however. King Richard is incompetent and unpopular. Henry usurps the throne and becomes King Henry IV. Then one of Henry’s henchmen kills Richard in prison.
Henry is overcome with remorse and guilt. What does he resolve to do to purify himself? He resolves to go on pilgrimage to the Holy Land!
Here is Henry’s final speech. Notice how he condemns the henchman who killed Richard as a “Cain.”
They love not poison that do poison need,
Nor do I thee: though I did wish him dead,
I hate the murderer, love him murdered.
The guilt of conscience take thou for thy labour,
But neither my good word nor princely favour:
With Cain go wander through shades of night,
And never show thy head by day nor light.
Lords, I protest, my soul is full of woe,
That blood should sprinkle me to make me grow:
Come, mourn with me for that I do lament,
And put on sullen black incontinent:
I’ll make a voyage to the Holy Land,
To wash this blood off from my guilty hand:
March sadly after; grace my mournings here;
In weeping after this untimely bier.
It has been one year since the Lord blessed me with a trip to Israel.
Archbishop Raymond Burke led the pilgrimage last year. He gave us excellent homilies every day.
He recently mailied copies of his homilies to us, to aid us in recalling and meditating on the graces we received a year ago.
If it please God, I will share some of the highlights of His Excellency’s homilies with you over the next few days…