29 June 2017

Are you a Parlor Christian?

Ss. Peter and Paul
Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP
St. Dominic Church, NOLA

In his homily for this solemnity, Pope Francis asks us to consider this question: are we parlor Christians or apostles on the go? That phrase – “parlor Christians” – makes me smile b/c I remember my grandmother's parlor. Pristine; immaculately decorated with bric-a-brac, hand-painted ceramics, family pictures in heavy frames. I remember the sofa with its tiny embroidered floral patterns and oddly shaped pillows. What I remember most vividly, however, is the box of candy she kept on the coffee table. Candy forever out of my reach b/c the parlor was forbidden to five-year old's with grubby hands and feet. When Pope Francis asks us if we are “parlor Christians” or “apostles on the go,” I imagine that box of candy – tempting, just within reach – protected by the sanctity of the parlor's cleanliness, its holiness, if you will. That parlor was so set apart from the rest of my grandmother's house that it seemed another world, another time entirely. It was a sanctuary, a museum of sorts that trapped a treasure in uselessness. Are you a parlor Christian or an apostle on the go?

What is a “parlor Christian”? Parlor Christians are those who see God's graces as treasures to be hoarded and put on display, protected from grubby hands and feet, kept far away from the work-a-day world of sinning and forgiving. Like that room in grandma's house that serves no real, living purpose, parlor Christians are set-away, forbidding, almost lifeless in their determination to remain untouched by living in the goodness of creation. Guarding a treasure rather than using it, they worship the idea of holiness rather than allowing the Divine Treasure to make them truly holy in the world, for the world. Pope Francis – needless to say! – urges us to be apostles on the go. Like Peter and Paul, apostles for the establishment and spread of the Good News. Like Peter and Paul, witnesses unto death for the truth of the Gospel, bearing testimony in our words and deeds to the freely offered mercy of the Father to sinners. Like Peter and Paul, apostles who get dirty when we work, tired when we play. But who always rely entirely on the treasured graces abundantly poured by our Father Who never ceases to send us out again and again – fully equipped, well-rested, and ready to speak His word of truth.


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