A HOMILY FOR THE TWENTY-SECOND SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME –CYCLE “B” – 9/2/18 – SMG
+ Pax et Bonum! Peace and goodness to you this day!
We all like to look good. Some of us are better at it than others. But we all want to look good. This of course is why we comb or brush our hair, and we brush our teeth, and we try and get a little exercise, once in a while, and we wear clothes that complement our bodies, and make us look good. As evidence of this, maybe some of you saw the staggering statistics that were released by Google, our favorite search engine service, about the pictures that we love to take, and upload to their services. According to Google, in one year, Americans uploaded 24 Billion selfies. Now this does not include the Apple cloud, or Snapchat, or Facebook, this is only Google Drive. 24 Billion! But perhaps that wasn’t the even more astounding information that was included in the release. Google went on to say that for each selfie that was uploaded, the average person actually took seven or eight pictures, choosing and editing the one that made them look best, before they uploaded it to Google! Clearly, we really want to look good. We are very concerned about how we appear on the outside.
Today’s Gospel centers around a group of men who also are very concerned about appearances, about how they look, and about how things appear. Today’s drama centers around the disciples NOT washing their hands before eating, in the marketplace. The Scribes and Pharisees see this and they go crazy. There’s high drama! They are thinking things like…”Don’t they know they aren’t supposed to do this!” “Why doesn’t Jesus stop them?” or “Oh, the humanity!” And the scene becomes a very important opportunity for Jesus, to teach the Scribes and the Pharisees about what’s more important, the things on the outside, that we can see, or the things on the inside, that we can’t, that come out of us. And that God alone sees.
And why is this so important for us to hear today, in 2018, all these centuries later, because we all are a lot like the Scribes and the Pharisees. We see with our eyes. We get caught up in things with what we see. And if we’re not careful, we to can reduce religion and our faith down to how good we look doing it. For the Scribes and Pharisees, it doesn’t matter that their hands were washed just so, or that their beards were just the exact length, or that their robes were perfect. Jesus is saying to them that what matter is what is in their hearts and their souls, and that it is what is on the inside. And they can’t see that part of things, but God can! And God knows their hearts and how far away they are from God and from true faith.
Could God be looking at all of us and saying the same thing? As Google reports, we are pretty good making the perfect “selfie”, even when it is about our faith. We can put the bumper sticker or license plate on our car or SUV, we can proudly wear our Christ Renews His Parish shirt or our always stylish SMG Italian Festival shirt everywhere we go, we can carry our Bible or wear our Adoration card around our neck, like I do, all the time, and those things might make us look like good Catholic Christians, but that’s not being a good Catholic Christian. That can be, in many ways, just going through the motions to look good. And don’t you see, this has all got to be more than that. It’s time we work on the inside, on our hearts, and on our souls!
Seems to me, that this is exactly the problem that we have gotten ourselves into with this scandal. Some priests and some bishops, have very much acted like the Scribes and Pharisees. Image somewhere along the line, became more important to them than things like truth, and justice, and integrity and holiness. That can never be, not for people who really seek God and
His ways! We’re going to come out of this a much better Church, but as we do, ALL OF US, and I mean that, ALL of us, are going to have to make sure that we’re changing our hearts and souls, and not just washing our hands. It takes much more than image to follow Jesus Christ! The Scribes and Pharisees didn’t want to hear that two thousand years ago. And maybe we don’t want to hear it today. You know, it is so easy to hear this Gospel and think, Boy, I really hope those Bishops in Pennsylvania are listening to these words this weekend. That’s not what we need. We need to all listen to these words. Let us change our hearts and souls first, and all the rest will follow.
We do like a good picture of ourselves. We want our best out there on Google, or Facebook, or Snapchat, or in the Apple Cloud. I’m not even sure what a couple of those things are. But we do all want to look good. How about we all want to be good? How about if we made being better and being holier, a goal for all of us! The Catholic Church is so much bigger than some of the mistakes that it has made. And there’s so much more at risk with this war with the devil, than anybody wants to admit. Let’s worry about our souls looking good, on Judgment Day. And ultimately, that’s all we really have to worry about!
+ May we strive to love and serve God with our very best, and may He make us beautiful on the inside! In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit… AMEN !!!
St. Maria Goretti…Pray for us !!!