3 March 2019 at St. Peter & St. William Churches in Naples, Fl
Sirach 27, 4-7 + Psalm 92 + 1 Corinthians 15, 54-58 + Luke 6, 39-45
Baseball was once called, “The National Pastime.” It seems to me that this description assumes that there is leisure time to be passed. In the busy world of these days, there isn’t much time to pass, so baseball has become a big business in itself, and a way to advertise and sell lots of things we really don’t need. In place of baseball, there is a new pastime that has caught on everywhere. I call it, “The Blame Game.” From the great halls of political power to our classrooms and homes, we are perfecting the art of blame. Everything is someone else’s fault. Unless, of course, if it is something good, then we did it.
As Jesus continues the formation program for his disciples this weekend, it becomes clear to any of us that what he has proposed the last two weeks when speaking about the “Blessed” ones is that children of God are a people who have integrated lives in which the heart and the mouth are in synch. In other words, what is said by disciples comes from a heart that is in “synch” or “in tune” with God’s heart, and what they do matches what they say. It’s all integrated: the heart, the mouth, the deeds. Achieving that comes from realizing that the Gospel is given to us as a guide for our own lives not as a judgement tool to use on others.
There is a terrible, violent scene in a movie called: “Boy Erased” during which a group of “Gospel inspired” reformers are punishing a young man who is gay and by their judgement is a sinner. They beat him with Bibles. Later in the film, he takes his own life. The viewer is left to wonder who has the greater sin. There is a kind of pseudo religion going around that tries to make other people better, but real religion just makes one’s self better, that’s all there is to it. And that is the kind of religion in which you find Jesus Christ and his disciples.
Those of us who wish to be disciples of Jesus are not called to be critics. We must embrace the goodness with which we are blessed and gaze upon the world to behold what is good in humanity. Those who look upon the world with the eye of a critic find only the image of themselves. It’s as though they are always looking in a mirror. Perhaps that is the way it works in a narcissistic world, but we are citizens of something not of this world. Once our hearts are open to others, we discover good in them, even when it is hidden. I know it is true in my own life. The greatest people who touched me most deeply paid no attention to my faults and weaknesses; but encouraged, acknowledged, and enabled my best gifts. That is exactly what Jesus did with that rag-tag group of fishermen, tax collectors, and sinners. It is also, exactly what he is still doing with us. How could we possibly not learn the lesson that from the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks?