Saturday, December 29, 2012

It's not about power (Holy Family homily)

That second reading--about husbands and wives--
sometimes bothers people.

Now, everyone can relax--
I’m not going to advocate anyone having power over others.
Because that’s not what Paul is advocating.

You can’t understand what Paul is saying, 
without remembering that for him, 
it’s all about the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.

And, in fact, when Paul addresses husbands and wives elsewhere, 
he says, point blank, submit to one another “out of reverence for Christ.”

Paul understood as well as anyone that our sinfulness 
leads us to put our ego out there, to lack trust, and so to grasp for power.

So when Paul talks about putting Christ in control, 
and being crucified with Christ, 
he’s driving a stake through the heart of that grasping power-trip.

When he became a man, and when people wanted Jesus to take control--
and he, of course, is the Creator!--what did he say?
“The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve--
and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

OK, I think we can agree, no one is supposed to be a dictator--
but that doesn’t mean we don’t need parents, 
especially fathers, to be leaders.

Especially spiritual leaders.

Fathers, your spiritual leadership--at Mass on Sunday, 
and in the home during the week--is so important. 
Not only by setting an example: 
your children will learn how to pray mostly from their parents.
But even more, by being a leader who is, himself, “under authority.”

Now, last night someone noticed 
I mostly talked about spiritual leadership from men--
and he asked why. 
And my answer is, our mothers have been 
providing that leadership. 
But what’s needed is more men to do so. 
(Added after the Saturday evening Mass.)

If I can speak to the men here for a moment.
Do you know why it is so critical that we’re here every Sunday?
Why we desperately need to learn about Jesus, and to learn from him?

There is no stronger man I can point to.
He knew what he came to do. He never flinched.
Even when his friends lost their nerve, not him.

He endured hours of torture. And he chose that. 
He refused every escape.

A man of peace who was no weakling.

Now here’s the thing.

Show me anywhere else our society gives us anything like this?
Every other example of manhood in our society falls short!

Everywhere else, we’re told to seek comfort, to seek pleasure, 
to seek power, to seek adventure; 
yes, to seek challenge, but above all, to keep control.

Our culture tells men either to be thugs or con-men or wimps.

Only in Jesus Christ do we have someone really worth following. 
And only then will we--as men or women, children or adults--
deserve to have anyone follow us.

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