Sunday, July 01, 2018

A homily about pornography (without using that word; Sunday homily)

This past week I was in northern Kentucky, 
at a conference with other priests. 
Maybe you saw in the bulletin what it was about.
If you didn’t, let’s put it this way: 
it was about the dark side of the Internet. 
This is a very big problem. 
For many people, for a lot of people, it is an addiction.

This was not a vacation. We were looking at some heavy science 
and talking about some tough things, and how a priest can help.

And then, during the week, I look at the readings for this Mass.
They are about God giving life, and healing; 
raising someone from death to life.

It seemed to me to be providential.

So let me go back to the word I just used: addiction.
This is something a lot of people simply don’t understand; 
Even about themselves: “I don’t know why I do this.”

If this isn’t you, it is really hard to understand.
How can someone wreck his or her life over alcohol 
or gambling or over dark stuff on the Internet?

I don’t know that I’m going to explain this adequately, 
But what you must understand is that this isn’t about will power.
It isn’t about not praying enough, or some easy trick.
It goes a lot deeper.

Here’s what I learned this week about indecent materials – 
and, you do know I’m talking about something specific, 
but I’m being delicate?
So here’s part of what I learned.

This is about connecting with people.
If we don’t have the right kind of human connections, 
we will seek out the wrong kind. False kinds. Empty connections.

And to turn it around: if we are hooked on the wrong kind,
The answer, the thing we need, is the right kind of human connection.

When a lot of us were children, 
we had one phone the whole house shared.
And we had one TV, with 3, 4 or 5 channels.
When you watched TV, it was together.

Today, everyone has his or her own telephone;
And you can watch TV on it. We’re all disconnected.

So why be surprised that instead of human connection, 
we connect with apps, with games, 
and with other things we don’t want others to see.

So let’s talk about what happened in the Gospel.
A man comes to Jesus; his daughter is very ill.
What does Jesus say? I will come to her. 

But then something odd happens along the way.
A woman in the crowd reaches out and touches Jesus.
And then Jesus, knowing she had been healed, decides to call her out.

Why not just let her go on her way: she was healed after all.
If you were her, would you want the spotlight put on you?
Everyone’s eyes staring at you? 
It’s kind of harsh. Why would he do that?

There was something more that woman needed 
than just to have her bleeding problem stopped.
She had a problem that must have been embarrassing;
It separated her from others.

Perhaps this woman felt shame, ugly, unwanted and unloved.
She was disconnected from others, and she had been for 12 years.
She didn’t just need the blood problem fixed; 
She needed her connection with others restored.
To be loved, and know it. That’s the healing the woman needed.
Jesus wasn’t embarrassing her; he was pulling her from the shadows.

Then she told Jesus the whole truth.
One of the most healing things you and I can do 
when we have something we feel shame about, some dark habit, 
is to tell someone.
Being all alone with that gives it power.
Remember: what we need is to connect the right way.

Jesus wanted that woman to know she wasn’t just a stranger; 
she was family. He called her “daughter.” 

That’s the connection. You are a beloved child of God. And so am I.
I don’t know all the answers, but I have some good ideas.
But if you want to talk, and get it out,
I’m really good at listening and not repeating things. 
That is what priests do.
And I think I can help you find help.

And I’m going to remind you that no matter what separates you, 
what you think makes you totally outside, totally off, unworthy,
is just not big enough that God won’t say to you, 
you are beloved son, you are my beloved daughter.

God created this world to be a place of life.
He made you and me to be “imperishable.”
And he came into the world – he became one of us –
To raise us back to life.

You are the one to whom Christ is speaking in the Gospel.
You are the child, he says, “is not dead but asleep.”
And to you, his most loved child, he says, “Arise!”

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