22 April 2013

Don't let a crisis lead you through the wrong gate

NB. I'll say it before anyone else does: this homily is a borderline rant. Blame it on the afternoon espresso.

4th Week of Easter (M) 
Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP 
St. Dominic Church, NOLA 

These anxious times offer us a huge selection of false gods to worship, a wide variety of robber-shepherds to follow. It seems that each new horror, each new disaster gives us another solution, another path to take out of our troubles. More legislation. Better enforcement. More surveillance. Better intelligence. More money. Better prevention. All of which, of course, means more state power if not better government. Rarely do we hear anyone with any authority—politicians, media-types, academics—suggest that the moral fiber of our culture is frayed and coming undone. Rarely do we hear anyone publicly suggest that the Newtown school massacre, or the Aurora theater shootings, or the Boston Marathon bombing, or the slaughterhouse of Philadelphia abortionist, Dr. Gosnell, no one ever seems connect these horrible events to a dark reality: as a culture, as a nation, as a people, we no longer look to God first as our moral compass; we no longer live believe that His love for us matters. When disaster strikes, our Betters turn to any and every solution imaginable: the law, medicine, psychology, education; they run through any and every gate opened to them. . .but one: the gate the Shepherd himself opens for us all. 

 Maybe it's our inherited pragmatic nature as Americans that sends us running after material solutions to spiritual problems. Or our need for quick and easy results that gets us rushing around looking for silver bullet answers. Or maybe we're just lazy and want someone else, anyone else to solve these problems for us. There's a pantheon of foreign gods waiting to grant our wishes, to lay out for us a whole range of fast and furious solutions. The problem with these solutions is that none of them really addresses the underlying cause of the problem. Why did those two brothers bomb the Boston Marathon? Your answer seems to depend on what remedy you want to impose to prevent future bombings? If you want more gov't control, your answer is: they bombed the marathon b/c law enforcement budgets are being cut. If you want to tar and feather all Muslims, your answer is: they bombed the marathon b/c Islam preaches hatred of non-Muslims. How about this answer? Evil is real, and its purpose is to annihilate life. The Shepherd holds open a gate for us to walk through, and that gate is called “Abundant Life.” Walking through any other gate held open by any other shepherd is robbery. It seems sometimes that our secular shepherds have led us through another gate entirely. 

If this is true—that we've been led through a gate other than the one marked “Abundant Life”—then, as followers of the One Shepherd, Jesus Christ, we need to stop bleating along behind these false shepherds and return to our Master for instruction. He walks ahead of us, and we follow him, because we recognize his voice. I wonder, do we? Or do we look to our secular leaders for spiritual instruction? Do we open our ears when they start calling us to surrender our principles, abandon our traditions, and kneel before their political agendas? If Jesus the Shepherd called his sheep to him, would we recognize his voice among the thousands that pretend to instruct us? The politicians, the academics, the pundits, the talking-heads on TV, the lobbyists, the partisan operatives, from among all those, would be hear Christ say, “Hey! Over here! Here's the gate to abundant life?” If you hear a voice preaching forgiveness, mercy, love, repentance, and obedience to God's word, that's his voice. If you hear a voice demanding vengeance, retaliation, bloodthirsty violence, and more and more secular control of our lives, that's not his voice. That's someone else's voice. The voice of a Robber and a Thief. Turn to the gate marked “Abundant Life,” and live this life abundantly in the love and mercy of Christ. 

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  1. To tie this into the Mass... our "shepherds turn now to face us when they should be leading us in the Mass. In order to lead, one must be facing the direction they desire to go, towards Jesus Christ. Our desire to look upon ourselves as "Mr. Fixit" has made its way into our Masses. Even our priests turn to us and offer the sacrifice as if we are worthy of it. We need to always turn to God in times of thanksgiving and trials, so our priests should lead by example and quit turning their backs to God in the Mass. I know our priests don't have the intention of turning their backs to God, but symbolically, that is exactly what they are doing. Please return the practice of offering the Sacrifice ad orientum. It is my understanding that this requires no permission from others since it is already licit.

    What are your feelings on it?

    God bless,

  2. "Evil is real and its purpose is to annihilate life." I can only agree with you. And then go off on my own rant! I won't subject you to that, though.

    Thank you for saying this. It needs to be said. . . over and over and over again.

  3. Et Cum Spiri22011:57 PM

    Very appropriate sermon for these times we are in. I have seen too many people caught up in messianic politics in recent years, including myself. It is as if some are still waiting for a messiah, an earthly messiah, a new King David (or Oliver Cromwell or Napoleon Bonaparte etc) to deliver them.
    Verses 8 & 9 from Psalm 117 are especially applicable...

    Psalm 117
    5 In my trouble I called upon the Lord: and the Lord heard me, and enlarged me.
    6 The Lord is my helper, I will not fear what man can do unto me.
    7 The Lord is my helper: and I will look over my enemies.
    8 It is good to confide in the Lord, rather than to have confidence in man.
    9 It is good to trust in the Lord, rather than to trust in princes

    also Augustin's City of God vs City of man

    Thank you for posting this

  4. Excellent...now, the hard part of being still enough to hear His voice when all the world shouts.