(For the audio version of this blog, please visit: http://brothersinchristcmf.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/Mass-Blog-for-the-6th-Sunday-in-Ordinary-Time-2022.mp3)
Pop culture pumps out idols on demand, like a factory makes widgets. In either case, (widgets or idols), without quality control, the end product can do a lot of damage. Idols are placed on high pedestals for all to see, but if their base lacks integrity, their inevitable fall damages both the idol and those who position themselves beneath them.
It can be heartbreaking to learn someone you idolized didn’t live up to the qualities you saw in them—especially if you were modeling yourself after them. In this Sunday’s first reading (Jer 17:5-8), the prophet Jeremiah summarizes a truth as relevant today as it was then:
Cursed is the one who trusts in human beings, who seeks his strength in flesh, whose heart turns away from the LORD.
The result of such a turn for the worse can be messy. Let’s face it, LIFE is messy—which happens to be the title of a book written by someone many Catholics idolize: Matthew Kelly. In it, Kelly offers enough evidence from his own life to rescue such readers from the effects of that idolization. HOWEVER…
One section of this book summarizes why we Christians can still take comfort in idolizing the person whose name has come to characterize our belief system. Enemies of that system have devoted their lives to debunking the divinity of Jesus, but as Kelly reasons, “Even if you could prove to me that Jesus never existed, I would still believe that his teachings propose the best way to live.”
For Kelly, the divinity of the Christian life boils down to four absolutes: honesty, unselfishness, purity and love. For us, when we live this philosophy, we BECOME Christ to each other. Our life in Christ gives us life beyond death—in the lives of those we’ve loved. That transcendent love can be a wake-up call for those souls whom pop culture has lulled into a mind-numbing sleep through this life, as Paul tells the sleeping souls of Corinth in this Sunday’s second reading (1 Cor 15:12, 16-20):
If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are the most pitiable people of all. But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.
Luke’s gospel (Lk 6:17, 20-26) introduces us to a Jesus who KNOWS that the earthbound enemies of his heavenly philosophy will try to debase it until the end of time. But as long as we live it, it will live. Jesus says:
Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude and insult you, and denounce your name as evil on account of the Son of Man. Rejoice and leap for joy on that day! Behold, your reward will be great in heaven. For their ancestors treated the prophets in the same way.
The fact we’re still reading the words and living the philosophy of Jesus and the prophets who preceded him proves the security of the rock-solid foundation on which Christ built his church.
Tom, too often we are let down by those we admire and look up to. Never moreso when it happens in the clergy. We expect so much from them based on their lifelong commitment to shepherd God’s people.
I have to think that Satan pays special attention to priests and religious and puts extra effort in tripping them up. We need to pray hard for the Lord’s ministers who are so important is guiding the faithful. They have a big target on them. Pray the Lord defends and protects them always.
Evil’s insidiousness is that it comes to us disguised as virtue. We fool ourselves with our own justifications. Paul is a great role model for us because he made his home in the darkness of self-deception before Christ called him into the light. Nobody understood the workings of our own evils like he did. His advice to the Ephesians about not buying into them still applies in the 21st century (Eph 5:7-14): “So do not be associated with [empty arguments]. For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light, for light produces every kind of goodness and righteousness and truth. Try to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the fruitless works of darkness; rather expose them, for it is shameful even to mention the things done by them in secret; but everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for everything that becomes visible is light. Therefore, it says: ‘Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.’”