Deacon Homily, Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time: August 18, 2019
Deacon Chuck Lewis, St. Stanislaus Parish
Our readings for today show a theme that is really uncomfortable. And that theme is: Authentically religious people, authentically spiritual people, will almost always be opposed. The logic behind this is straightforward: we live in a world gone wrong, a world turned upside down; therefore when someone comes speaking the truth to the world, the world thinks that they are dangerous, even crazy.
Jesus’ word is meant to burn things up, to reduce things to cinders, to clear things out! A get-along, go-along attitude is never what Jesus is calling for. Many of us are uneasy with this idea, but the Bible isn’t. To truly love is to will the good of the other regardless of the cost.
Therefore, to love necessarily involves passionate opposition to what brings evil in the other. True love destroys the false forms of order and community that exist today. True love rejects new definitions of God’s tried and true commands. True love rejects the arrogance of man redefining marriage and the assault on the sanctity of human life. So, if we are feeling opposed, there is a good reason. If we are not feeling opposed, however, maybe we need to pray about whether or not we are too comfortable, too get-along, go-along.
Several years ago, there was a news report of a student who came forward after a Mass at his university and complained because he felt “victimized” by a homily on 1 Corinthians 13.
It appears the young scholar felt offended because a homily on love made him feel bad about himself for not showing love. In his mind, the homilist was wrong for making him and his peers, feel uncomfortable.
I’m not making this up. Our culture has actually led some of our children to be this self-absorbed and narcissistic. Any time their feelings are hurt, they are victims. Anyone who dares challenge them and, thus, make them “feel bad” about themselves, is labeled a bigot or a hater.
The simple truth is the feeling of discomfort one has after listening to the readings today is because we have a conscience. An examination of conscience is supposed to help us see ourselves as Jesus sees us. And, that can make us feel bad. A good examination of conscience is supposed to make us feel guilty and motivate us to become better.
One of the goals of a good homily is to help us see our sins – not coddle us in our own selfishness and spiritual mediocrity. Jesus didn’t die on a cross so we could remain mediocre. The primary mission of the Church and the Christian faith is our confession and redemption – not our self-absorption and comfort.
If we want our Church to tell us we are victims rather than tell us that we need virtue, our view of the Church is not the Church Jesus founded.
If we want to complain about a challenging homily that makes us feel less loving for not showing love like that young scholar, we can be assured our complaint is counter to the will of Christ.
If we are more interested in playing the “hater” card than we are in confessing our own hate; if we want to arrogantly lecture, rather than humbly learn; if we don’t want to feel guilt in our souls when we are guilty of sin; if we want to be coddled rather than confronted, there are far too many religions in the world and expressions of Christianity that will accommodate us but being a true follower of Jesus Christ and His true Church isn’t one of them.
Jesus taught us to be selfless rather than self-centered. Being selfless is absolutely necessary in order for us to do our part in being opposed in this world.
As followers of Jesus, we believe that life is not about “us” it is about others and the bad feelings we have while studying our faith, examining our consciences or while listening to a homily are actually good for us. Some would say, we have good guilt or constructive guilt. And a sure fire way to alleviate our guilt is to repent of everything that’s wrong with us rather than to blame others for everything that is wrong with them.
Today, more than ever, who would argue with: what we need more of, Are bold Christians who are comfortable with being uncomfortable;
Christians who have the guts to cast fire on the world;
Christians who aren’t afraid to be opposed by the culture;
Christians who have the courage to truthfully examine their own lives;
Christians who work on their own faults before condemning the faults of others;
Christians whose lives are lived with some spiritual consequence;
And Christians whose commitment to Christ comes first and foremost above all else.
Friends, our readings today should make us feel uncomfortable. Let us pray for the grace to be the light in the darkness our world so desperately needs.