Wolves are scary. As a youngster I remember walking back home from the Blessed Sacrament Chapel in the parish for miles along a forest gravel road in the north woods of Minnesota and about halfway I heard what could only have been a wolf (LOUD!) obviously with rabies screaming and crying and shrieking and hoooowling and hooowling as it traveled parallel to me, instigating me to ask my guardian angel that I be invisible in every way to that wolf so that I might get home safe.
Jesus said that He would be sending out his disciples as lambs in the midst of wolves. So what are we to think about that? Wolves would nip at a hoof of lamb and toss it spinning into the air, bleating helplessly. They would then each take a hoof and the nose and pull it apart, gorging themselves.
Question: How do we prepare for such encounters? Disguise oneself as a wolf? Be all tactically prepared, as if that would save us analogously from the spiritual pitfalls associated after original sin with the world, the flesh and the devil?
Answer: Just be the lamb to whom Jesus provides a love stronger than any pitfalls, a love stronger than death. I want to go to heaven. That‘s what’s important. How about you?
Oooo! The “hard sayings” of Jesus. No. Just a bit of irony. Just a bit of helpful sarcasm from our Lord favoring our understanding. As one reader put it: “Well… hell!”
Update: In speaking with Father Gordon MacRae about this he told me a story which he often recounts to me whenever I mention my difficulty preaching, bringing the emphasis instead to those who are listening to any homily, putting the preacher in his place.
He said that one day he had laryngitis and could hardly whisper out the Gospel, so he skipped the homily and went right to the offertory, but they couldn’t quite hear what he was saying, just assuming he was saying the offertory prayer “Blessed are you Lord God of all creation…”
Instead, while standing now at the altar he was apologizing to the congregation that he had lost his voice and so there would be no homily. Without missing a beat they responded in union: “Blessed by God forever.”
That’s Father Gordon’s commentary on my homilies. Hahaha.
In a weak moment, as a deacon, decades ago, in mulling over what to say at a funeral homily after a tragic head-on collision in the parish in which almost a dozen people were killed (an entire family in one car and all teenagers packed into another car that was drag racing yet another car over the crest of a hill), in mulling over what to say I stopped to peruse – ever so stupidly – a binder full of canned homilies for funerals. I couldn’t believe it when I read over a homily that was merely political backing for JFK, making him out to be a saint, and that’s why we’re at this funeral today. Barf. Never again.
I’m not great at preaching as you know, but I would rather preach in a super sloppy way from the heart than to read such trash. The above pictured advertisement came in the mail today, bringing back bad memories. It’s the same homilies subscription series from a lifetime ago. Barf. Never again.
Guardian Angel intervention: I despise these canned, vacuous homilies so much that I used to make even just the fact of their existence fodder for my rant-homilies on canned homilies, a very traditional thing to do as we find out by reading the homilies of the Fathers of the Church and they start complaining about the evils of stealing the homilies of others. If canned homilies come up in conversation among priests talking shop, I tell my JFK funeral homily story. I started in at lunch one day in the Chaplain’s House in Lourdes, France, about that JFK homily and hadn’t yet said my opinion of that canned homily when, low and behold, the priest who had written that homily turned out to be the priest right across the table from me. He was ecstatically happy that he met an American who had read his homily, he being Irish. I just so had to bite my tongue. My Guardian Angel saved me by having me not rant without knowing who it was in front of me. Yikes!
It just gives me the creeps: That picture above just gives me the creeps, thoroughly. It’s truly unbearable. Traumatic. Uggh. I would hate to be in a parish where the other priest was preaching canned homilies. It’s just so wrong. We priests have to know Jesus. We have to know about the fire of the Holy Spirit.
The Lord Jesus has a fierce expression on His face: “It’s you!” But Matthew the tax collector is feigning doubt: “Oh, but you surely mean this other guy, right?”
We can be such a fickle crowd. Christ our God is mighty patient with us.
He was overwhelmed with his own sin and repented in a way as mighty as the grace of God that was with him.
He would go on to write something in his Gospel that is simply stunning about the mercy that was shown to him, the extent of that mercy, how far reaching, how much our Lord is enthusiastic to get us to heaven. In this writing, he is ironic, incisive, with an almost mischievous triumphalism in humble thanksgiving to our Lord. What he wrote is this:
That should just throw us right down to our knees in humble thanksgiving to the King of kings, the Lord of lords, the Prince of the Most Profound Peace, who will come to judge the living and dead and the world by fire. Amen.
In this homily I went after the legitimacy of we, the great unwashed, assessing Jesus and John. Pfft. Like that‘s going to work. Pfft.
Jesus said to the crowds:
“To what shall I compare the people of this generation?
What are they like?
They are like children who sit in the marketplace and call to one another,
♬ ‘We played the flute for you, ♬ but you did not dance. ♬ ♬ We sang a dirge, ♬ but you did not weep.’ ♬
For John the Baptist came neither eating food nor drinking wine,
and you said, ‘He is possessed by a demon.’
The Son of Man came eating and drinking and you said,
‘Look, he is a glutton and a drunkard,
a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’
But wisdom is vindicated by all her children.”
That Wisdom is God’s Love. God is Love.
That Wisdom is God’s Truth. God is Truth.
But the manipulators of political correctness unto themselves know nothing of God’s Love, of God’s Truth. So that can’t see anything of honesty and integrity of the lives of Jesus and John.
Here’s the deal: they cut off John’s head with their self-absorption; they crucified Jesus with their self-absorption. It all comes down to self-absorption.
To save us from self-absorption is why John pointed out Jesus; it’s why Jesus stood in our place, the innocent for the guilty, to have the right in His own justice to have mercy on us. And we were oblivious. God loved us while we were yet sinners. Yep. The Light shining into the darkness. Thank you, Lord. You’re the One. You’re the only One.
Compare the above drawing of Jesus Crucified by Saint John of the Cross (with the nails and bleeding and obvious horrific suffering) with the painting by Salvador Dali for which he took this drawing as his inspiration, but with no nails, no bleeding, no suffering.
If you persevere, you’ll hear some good news. It’s worth hearing the good news. It puts a new perspective on this whole crisis. Apologies for the length. Lots of adrenaline today. Our Lord can draw good out of evil, just as He did with His own crucifixion.
Silly me. When I was living for a little while above the cave of Elijah on Mount Carmel, I went outside and asked my guardian angel to show me a cloud in the shape of a foot (crushing the serpent, as in Genesis) arising out of the sea from which a rain storm would come (as with Elijah). My guardian angel has fun with me.
Did you know that Mary has two names? Well, three, at least.
“The Woman” as in Genesis 3:15, Gospel of John, etc
Mary – Miryam – Bitter Sea
The one who perfectly continues to stand perfectly transformed in grace from the time when – in context of Luke 1 – she was called to the be Virgin Mother of God, from all eternity, and that coming home at the first moment of her conception.
I realize I haven’t put up any homilies for a while, but I figure that if Pope Francis can give homilies over in Santa Marta the way he does, then I can give homilies over here in the beyonds of the peripheries.