22 January 2011

Bring on the crazzy!

NB:  This homily had a much better ending, but as I went to "save as" Open Office crashed and I lost it.  The Devil really is after me these days!

2nd Week OT (Sat)
Fr. Philip N. Powell, OP
St. Joseph Church, Ponchatula

Jesus' family thinks he's nuts. They've heard about him roaming around the country healing and preaching, arguing with the Pharisees and challenging the scribes. They've heard that the crowds are so thick sometimes that he and the disciples couldn't even eat. Hearing all of this, his family sets out to seize him, saying, “He's out of his mind!” Knowing what we know about Jesus, we can sympathize with his poor family. Think about the claims Jesus makes. He can forgive sins, heal the sick, cast out demons. He claims to be the promised Messiah, the Son of God. This hometown boy from Nazareth is running around telling folks that he is the Anointed One whose coming is prophesied by Isaiah. His poor mama and daddy might worried sick! The Pharisees are worried too. . .for very different reasons. They too want to seize him. . .also for very different reasons. We know that Jesus isn't crazy. We know that we aren't crazy b/c we believe his Good News. But let's admit the truth about our faith: living in this world as followers of Christ can make us a little crazy. Trying to be Christ for others is not only difficult, it is dangerous to our mental health. And this is a risk well worth taking. Being sane in this world is its own kind of crazy.

You don't have to spend much time with the biographies of some our greatest saints to realize that there is a fine line between being holy and being nuts. St. Rose of Lima rubbed lye into her beautiful face so that her beauty wouldn't be a temptation for others. St. Catherine of Siena ate nothing but consecrated communion wafers for weeks on end. Other holy men and women lived in caves; sat on top of pillars; walled themselves up into houses. Some voluntarily moved into leper colonies or violent slums. St. Maximilian Kolbe volunteered himself to be starved to death by the Nazis in order to save a fellow prisoner who had a family. Are these men and women insane or holy? By the world's standards, they are surely as crazy as belfry bats. Following along behind Christ is dangerous; following him can put your sanity at risk. But if being sane in the world means rejecting the promises made by divine love, I say, “Bring on the crazy!”

On its own terms, our world offers us everything a self-aware animal wants and needs. Food, shelter, clothing, work, status, relationships, intellectual and emotional development. Given the right circumstances, a little hard work, and some luck, we can be comfortable and look forward to staying that way. But there's a price for this comfort. To get all we want and need in this world, we have to surrender any hope for living beyond the world. If we spend our time and energy trying to live here and now as if there were something, somewhere more than what we see and hear, we forfeit the riches of the here and now; we sacrifice comfort, security, maybe even family and friends. When we make decisions as if heaven and hell really exists, as if God is real and the gospel were true, everything we have becomes a chance to show this world that the world itself is a divine gift. 

Take a risk today. Live dangerously. Pray fervently, “Lord, bring on your crazy and give me what I need to be crazy for you!”

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