Wednesday, December 08, 2010

You may have to stand out (Sunday homily)

(Sorry I didn't post this earlier, this is from memory.)

I began with a story about giving a talk some time back to junior high kids about John the Baptist; and how, despite all the care I took with the talk, amidst all the many points I aimed at making, when I asked the kids what stood out, they said: Oh, yeah, he was that crazy guy who wore funny clothes and ate locusts!

So I made the point that John the Baptist stands out--and even seems odd. They thought so then and we would think so now. We might even think he's crazy--just as we would someone rushing and I crying out "fire." Crazy--unless he's right.

This role often falls to us: we have to cry out as John did, calling people to repentance and challenging our bankrupt culture.

My first example I introduced by saying, "this is delicate, I'll describe it delicately" (this, I have learned from experience, is how to introduce a sensitive topic so that folks don't worry about what their kids hear). I talked about how odd it was that we must defend the notion that marriage is a man and a woman, but we must. We risk being called bigots and haters for doing this--more and more voices are trying to silence us. "And if we make our point with bigotry, or hatred, or by demeaning anyone, then shame on us! Instead, we defend the truth without putting people down and without hate."

At one Mass I went off on a jag about this being part of a larger effort to redefine what simply being human is, of which the radical deconstruction of marriage, family is just a part. I talked about how technology was making it possible for us to reject God's design, and substitute our own. I decided at subsequent Masses to leave this out, as I didn't think I developed it so well, and it took too long.

I cannot now recall how I transitioned--i.e., I may be recounting my points out of order--but I did move to asking, "do you ever see things on tv, in ads, or hear things in music, that you find offensive? Of course you do; we all do. One of things we might think about is, do we want to do business with those people?" I cited the example of popular clothing companies Abercrombie and Hollister, saying that I was embarrassed to visit their sites, because I didn't want to look at soft-core pornography. "Parents, if you haven't seen these sites, you should; your kids have."

At some point I shifted to the alternative vision we offered. Rejecting God's plan didn't lead to life; focus on self, on pleasure, on only the present, isn't a full life. The light of eternity changes things. That's why we challenge our culture; we have something better.

I made the point that we may think no one will listen, but that's not necessarily true; there are folks who know the culture is bankrupt and they hunger for something better. We won't attract them if we represent "the culture-lite"--that's why we stand apart. At one Mass I made a further point about different ways we do that.

At two Masses I cited the example of the artwork in the Smithsonian, showing ants on a crucifix--and I said, aside from that being offensive, it makes me wonder, is that the best we can do? Our culture produced beautiful art, but it seems its behind us. Another reason why we call our culture back to Christ.

My conclusion, I think, was that in taking part in the Mass, we might pray for the courage to be John the Baptist for our time, or something like that.

1 comment:

Ann said...

Dear Fr. Fox,please pray for our priest and other priests like him. He was publicly chastised from the pulpit, because among other things, his sermons were not well received by the archdiocese. Too many complaints from a vocal minority of the laity, some who have been upfront in their disdain for our priest and their support for abortion rights, against this very good and honest priest.

My children are very disillusioned about the whole matter. I guess I am too. I have the crazy notion that someone like you and our priest would have the smallest amount of support from their superiors. Instead they have shown themselves to have no backbone. Empty suits. I had thought to myself if they found what our priest said to be politically incorrect what would they have made of John the Baptist. Imagine my surprise when your post mentioned him!

So please, pray that not only will the laity become like John the Baptist, that priests that do, will not suffer his fate.