Sunday, September 24, 2006

Control--or the Cross? (Sunday homily)

A lot of folks struggle with anger and impatience.
They wonder where it comes from.
It’s this (the remote-control): control.

I don’t know about you,
but I am one of those people
who always has to have this remote control,
when I watch TV.

In truth, this “clicker” is only the illusion of control.

You point the remote—and nothing happens:
Do you feel frustration?
You surf through all the channels—ten times!—
only to complain, “there’s nothing on!”

As a recovering remote-hog, let me tell you a secret: those of us, who covet that remote, if we don’t have it,
we have a little twitch in our fingers—all the time!

You know why?
Because we wish we had a remote for everything!
And, in a lot of life’s events,
we point the remote we wished we had at things,
yet nothing happens…
And that’s when we get angry.

If you think this is only “a man thing,” it’s not.
Women and men both have ways of seeking control.

Either way, St. James’ message is the same:
You covet, but we do not possess:
Stop coveting control, if you want peace!

Admitting we are powerless is extremely hard.

This is the crucial, first step in AA
and other 12-Step programs.
And it is what holds many back.

How often we cling to the illusion we are in control
when in fact something is controlling us—
alcohol, drugs, food, work, pornography—
and we let everything fall apart around us,
before we admit we are pushing buttons to no effect!

On the other hand, we have the Cross.

The first reading, written 100 years before Jesus came,
describes what he would face;
and what you and I can expect by following him.

So don’t be surprised…

When our pope courageously identifies two problems:
In the West, we disconnect reason from faith;
In Islam, too many connect faith with violence…

No surprise when almost everyone cries out:
“Let us beset the just one,
because he is obnoxious to us”?

So don’t be surprised when
you speak out against the death penalty,
or call for compassion, when others demand blood…
and you get the same response.

It will happen on the playground—at work—
out with your friends on Friday or Saturday night—
And you speak a truth that is unwelcome.

Do you realize, the Just One—Jesus Christ—
is the only one who truly had a choice
between the remote and the Cross?

As God, he really has an all-purpose remote.
But God knows what you and I discover painfully:
This clicker kind of power won’t satisfy.

In our family, or workplace, we might pull it off:
we might achieve being the dictator,
or the puppet-master.

But it’s not so wonderful when
your spouse is beaten down,
your family walks on eggshells around you, and
your friends won’t tell you what you need to hear.

That may be power—but it’s not love.
And that’s why God put down his remote-control,
and took up the Cross!

When you and I face the great problems of our world,
We reach for that elusive remote-control.
Sometimes we do have to fight;
most of the time, we don’t have all the answers.

With all respect for our president—
he has a tough job, and we want him to succeed—
but does it ever seem
he’s just pointing that remote at Iraq,
and pressing the same buttons over and over?

Meanwhile, consider our holy father:
You know why he’s so fearless?
He’s not afraid of the Cross—he has nothing to lose!

The remote, and the Cross, are before us.
This is what our baptism means:
choosing the Cross, instead of the remote.

Confession is where
we put the remote back down again.
That’s why frequent confession is so helpful.

And in the Eucharist,
we discover that however alone we think we are,
we are not alone: Jesus—the Just One—
is honored to share our cross with us,
whatever it is.

In the Eucharist, we draw strength from him
who was fearless before the Cross.
The battles we face, the darkness we fear,
are certainly bigger than we are—
But they are certainly not bigger than He is!

This is the last week we’ll talk about stewardship.
Our basic act of stewardship is of ourselves—
our most basic choice in life.

What will it be? Control—or the Cross?


Barb Szyszkiewicz said...

THANK YOU. I have to remember to give up the control--SO often. Your words have given me a lot to think & pray about today.

Anonymous said...

Thanks. I think you may have hit the major problem plaguing Americans in this era: the "remote control" mentality.

I know I have that problem with pedestrian street crossing buttons. I wouldn't realize that I would cross when the light next changed in my favor, not merely when I hit the button. Madison Avenue made light of that with their "Easy Button" campaign for Staples.

Thing is, nothing is "easy," it wasn't meant to be. We have to let go and let the light change on schedule, as let go and let God.

Easy to say, but a lifetime's work to do.

Anonymous said...

Father, excellent sermon. There is much in it to go back over to think and pray over as Barb says. I thank you for posting your sermons. I go to them each Sunday with anticipation. I wonder if you have ever looked at Father John's site

He really has some great stuff on the site including some nice MP3 programs that I like to listen to while working at the computer.

Gregaria said...

Thank you so much for posting this Father. I have been thinking about this a lot lately.

I especially liked this part:

"Meanwhile, consider our holy father:
You know why he’s so fearless?
He’s not afraid of the Cross—he has nothing to lose!"

So, so true. If we're not afraid of the Cross, we aren't afraid of anything.

God bless you.

Mojo said...

Really like the blog...
blessings from N. Ireland

Anonymous said...

Since we got NO homily this week - only a talk on finances - I have printed off this wonderful homily and passed it around to friends and family. It is powerful and beautiful. (The identity of the blogger is in this case kept secret to protect the guilty...)

Fr Martin Fox said...

By the way -- did any of you who read this pick up on my use of "props" -- i.e., I actually held up a remote, and a crucifix, at various points.

Any comments on that?

Anonymous said...

"Stop coveting control, if you want peace!"

An appropriate homily and a timely one for me who sees how impatience and anger are upsetting in family life. I need to give up control.