A HOMILY FOR THE THIRTIETH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME – CYCLE”C”-10/27/13 – SMG
+ Pax et Bonum!
When I was a kid, I used to love the reruns on TV of “Our Gang” or “The Little Rascals”. For the age-deprived among us, let me tell you a little bit about these shows. These TV shows were a series of American comedy short films about a group of poor neighborhood children and their adventures. First conceived of way back in 1922 by Hollywood producer Hal Roach, the first Our Gang episodes were silent films. In 1929, MGM added sound to the series. The series included 220 short films and one feature film. The film series came to an end in 1944. In 1955, eighty of these short films were re-edited for the new medium of television for CBS, and “The Little Rascals” were born. People loved “The Little Rascals” because they showed children behaving in a relatively natural way. The stories for the first time put boys and girls, and blacks and whites together as equals. And the kids were funny. One of my favorite parts of The Little Rascals, was, whenever the kids needed any money for anything, one of the kids would always cough up the same idea for raising some funds…”Let’s put on a show!!!” And the kids would sing, or dance, or tell jokes, and they always made just enough money for what they needed. Maybe we should try that with the Adoration Chapel and BellTower, “Hey, Let’s put on a show!!!” There are times when it is good to put on a show. There are times that a little music, a little dance, a few jokes can make a big difference. And I suppose when you’re in a job interview, or when you’re trying to impress someone, or when you’re asking someone out on a date, these also are times to put on a show, be a little dramatic, emphasize the positive. And then of course, there’s other times when it is NOT so good to put on a show. For example, when we are praying, it is not a good time to put on a show.
Today we hear this parable, of a Pharisee, one of the religious leaders and teachers of Israel, and of a tax collector, one of the most hated and despised groups of people in Israel at that time, who both go up to the Temple to pray. The Pharisee is putting on a great show. He’s got his robes on. He’s got his jewelry. And he’s feeling pretty good about himself. He says, “Thank God I’m NOT like that tax collector over there!” The tax collector is just being himself. He doesn’t have much choice. Everybody knows him. Everybody has already judged him. Maybe, the tax collector doesn’t even feel like he should be there. And so, he prays to God for His mercy, “Lord, be merciful to me a sinner.” It is the perfect prayer, most especially when it is humbly prayed! Jesus says that only the tax collector went home justified. God sees through our “shows”.
My brothers and sisters in Christ, our Faith, our religion, can’t be a show. Anybody can look holy. Anybody can look religious. They have all kinds of costumes on sale now at every Halloween/party store in town. You can dress up like the Pope, or a priest, or an angel. But our relationship with God is so much more than an outfit, or a costume, or a show. God knows our hearts. God sees everything. And God calls us to be authentic Catholic Christians, not just dress up ones.
You see, God is asking us to convert our hearts. Anybody can go through the motions of being a Catholic Christians. What God needs are true hearts committed to Him and really living out their Faith. And a certain humility is called for in order to do that. It can’t be about making ourselves look good. It’s gotta be about letting God look good through our words and actions. It is not a show. Others can tell when we are pretending, or acting, or putting on a show. Can’t we see it ourselves in others? Authenticity is a very important part of living out our Faith. We’ve got to make it AND keep it real. And one of the surest ways of doing that is to remember that we are all sinners. We have all fallen down. But so did the Saints. God has never said He only wanted to call perfect people. It’s a good thing, too, or else none of us could be here today. At least I know that I couldn’t.
There are times for putting on a show. Next year, instead of Fruitful Harvest, I think we’ll just try a variety show, and see how much money we make that way. I won’t sing, I promise. But when it comes to our Faith, that’s where the show has to stop.
May God bless us today, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit… AMEN !!!
St. Maria Goretti… Pray for us !!!