Scorpions? What scorpions? (Homily for the14th Sunday in OT, 2013)
I know that some folks may have been put off by some of what I said. But let me be clear: Just because the Church would propose that someone you love dearly is participating in a lifestyle that the Church considers sinful doesn’t mean that the Church, or anyone in the Church, hates anyone. Just because I tell you you’re doing something wrong doesn’t mean I don’t love you, and accept you as you are.
Here’s a funny question: What do contracepting, missing Mass without good reason, and (homo- or hetero-) sexual expression outside of the sacrament of Matrimony, for example, all have in common? They are all mortal sins (meaning, they are all actions that separate us from God in a way that threatens our immortal souls). Does that mean that the people who commit any of those sins are base, evil, and hateful people? No; they might be, but it isn’t just because they sin. And funny enough, none of those sins is any more “mortal” than any other. Everyone sins. Most people commit the occasional mortal sin. And when they do, there’s a way to deal with that.
But brothers and sisters, things don’t become “good” just because we can’t imagine that God would think that the thing is bad. God, for better or worse, isn’t limited by our imagination. He designed us a certain way; His intent has been frustrated in individual lives by the presence of sin and by our free will; and God is both merciful and just. Can someone who lives a clearly sinful life get into Heaven? Who knows for sure about any individual? Nobody can say for sure who is NOT in Heaven (even if we can’t imagine God letting a particular person in!). At the same time, us wishing that someone is in Heaven doesn’t make it so, either.
And the really sad thing is this: it isn’t about what punishment might or might not come if a person continues to do whatever it is we say is so wrong. It’s more (much more) that the person committing those acts misses out on the good, the peace, the happiness in this life that comes from walking with God. We are all looking for God. When we find Him, when we embrace Him, we are at our happiest. When we turn away from Him, we are less happy.
I like the image Christopher West often uses when discussing Theology of the Body. It’s like we are invited to this sumptuous banquet, with great food and choice wines…and because we don’t want to be told what to do, we eat from the dumpster out back instead. Can we get nourishment from what we get out of the dumpster? Sure. But we have to pick through a lot of crappy stuff to find the nourishment, and occasionally, we will get sick. We might even run across something that will kill us.
So enough of that.
My wife, Ann Marie, pointed out something about my homily yesterday. As she observed, I do a good job, calling out the demons that afflict us. But I spend ever so little time actually trying to help uncover strategies to actually do the junk I say I think people ought to do. So let me rectify that.
What are some ways to help our families becomes saints? Here’s a short list; not meant to be exhaustive:
- Pray with your family. Daily. Even if it’s only an “Our Father”, everyone in the family needs to acknowledge that there is Someone bigger than themselves to whom they owe their lives.
- Pray with your spouse. Men, (especially Catholic men!), don’t think that your wife cares how articulate and complex your prayer is. She cares more that you have it in your heart to lead her spiritually. Pray. Real Men do it. Ladies, if your husband is reluctant, don’t beat him up. You lead the prayers for a while.
- Pray for your spouse. Especially if one or the other is reluctant to do all this God stuff, enlist the power of the Holy Spirit, and the intercession of the Saints in heaven, to help change your spouse’s heart. If you’re praying for someone, it’s hard to be angry at them, too!
- Take your family to Mass. At least every Sunday. Not only is it a requirement for Catholics (in line with keeping holy the Sabbath day, and emulating the Apostles and the early Church), but it’s good for you. See bullet point #1 above.
- Have at least one meal with the entire family gathered, every day. It’s hard to do, and with the tempo of life we impose on ourselves, it sometimes isn’t possible. But if your goal is to eat together every day, you’ll do it most of the time.
- Turn off the TV. And the BluRay player. And the XBox/PS3/Wii/other gaming device. Take a walk. Play a board game. Heck, play poker and win back your kids’ allowance money. But spend some time together unmediated by media that don’t care about you and your family.
- If you’re married, here’s one final recommendation: Just give Church’s proposition about the proper order of sexual expression in marriage a try. Yes, it’s a risk. But…just suppose for a moment…that the Church is correct. Just suppose, for a moment, that what we’ve had force-fed to us by the culture since 1965…is completely and utterly false. Go audit the first part of a Natural Family Planning class. Or if that’s too much, talk with a friend who practices Natural Family Planning. But get informed. And then give it a try.
God bless everybody! I’m always interested in hearing what you are thinking. feel free to comment on the blog, on Facebook, or via Twitter. And thanks for reading!