06 June 2023

Don't be a circus monkey

St. Boniface

Fr. Philip Neri Powell OP
St. Albert the Great, Irving

The handout is titled, “The Temptations of a Preacher.” It's an expose on how the Devil lures the preacher away from his anointed task – to preach the Good News in its entirety w/o making any dishonest adjustments or compromises. I pass the handout around to the seminarians, and the discussion begins. After nearly two hours of dissecting the topic, we conclude that all of the Devil's temptations can be lumped into One Big Temptation for the preacher: You Can Be a Star! You can have a fan base. Lots of applause. Influence across media platforms – even a YouTube channel! All you have to do is: never say anything of substance; never preach the hard stuff; always scratch itchy ears; affirm prejudices – cultural, political, economic – ; and put on a good show. The preacher's job once this temptation is yielded to is simple – you're an over-educated circus monkey wearing an anachronistic costume. Contrast that image with this one: I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” Circus monkeys don't die for their groupies.

St. Boniface, not a circus monkey but rather an eighth-century English Benedictine bishop, martyr, and missionary to Germany, writes to a friend, “Let us be neither dogs that do not bark nor silent on-lookers nor paid servants who run away before the wolf…Let us preach the whole of God’s plan…in season and out of season.” No dishonest adjustments. No compromises. Boniface barked at the wolves. And he died a martyr for refusing to run away. Same with Paul. We read in Acts that Paul was seized by the Jewish leaders and almost killed because “[he] preached the need to repent and turn to God, and to do works giving evidence of repentance.” Paul preaches the truth; he barks at the wolves. He too dies a martyr for not running away. Faced with the temptation to be an Ecclesial Star and the promise of martyrdom for preaching the truth, do you bark and die or whimper and slink away? Lest you lay folks are too comfortable, I'll add: these temptations aren't limited to pulpit preachers. All the baptized are charged with preaching the Good News, veritas in caritate. The truth in love. You can be a circus monkey getting laughs, or you can be a dog for the Lord. You can dance for applause, or bark at the wolves. Guess which one takes the Devil's coin.

Follow HancAquam or Subscribe ----->

No comments:

Post a Comment