[Also, here's a video of St. John Paul II in a batting cage.]
32nd Sunday, Year B
Last Sunday, I gave some pretty intense homilies at 9 & 10:30
If you were at a different Mass, I’ll summarize quickly here
And even if you were at 10:30, might be worth it hearing the 9:00 version
It’s scary to read that the greatest commandment is to love the lord you got with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength
Because if we’re honest, we know we are bad at it, like really bad, at loving God entirely.
We know that we love and cherish and worship all sorts of things on par with—or very likely—over God himself
Sports, hobbies, clubs, schools, kids, jobs, cars, investments, houses, lake houses...
To say nothing of our own pride, vanity, self-importance; our desire to win, desire to be right, desire to be first
All humans were made to worship God, but ever since the Garden of Eden, all humans have also have had a constant pull towards making lesser things into idols and worshipping at those altars instead of worshipping God.
And then there’s that whole second commandment—the one that Jesus says is “like the first”—love your neighbor as yourself.
So for all the care and concern and self love we have, we need to have that in equal measure with our neighbor
And this is to say nothing of the gospel passages like the rich young man who went away sad when Jesus told him he still lacked one thing—sell everything and then follow me—or today’s gospel of the widow’s mite, with her two small coins. Both about total surrender and total gift of self instead of clinging to our possessions
And I was clear to make a nice list of my own failings at both of these two greatest commands of God, found in both the old and new testaments. Mine are especially heavy in the self-importance and self-righteous categories.
So, having charged all of us with idolatry and failing at the two greatest commandments, where do we go now?
Is the only option to quit the world and go off into the wilderness and live as monks like the old Desert Fathers and hermits?
Is there any way to be in the world, but not of the world?
And especially as families?
It’s one thing for a person to choose a radically different life as a single person, but what about those with spouse and kids—which is the vast majority of the Christian faithful?
Are most people left to feel they can never keep the first commandment because they also love their families and friends, sports and hobbies, schools and teams and toys?
Must we quit all our club teams, cancel our satellite NFL season ticket and MLB.tv, sell our jet skis and motorboats, give up gardening and jogging, stop investing in the stock market, and quit attending our kids events?
Is that the only option??
No. I don’t think so.
At different times in Christian history there have been breakaway groups, schismatic groups, heretical groups, (more like cults) who said we have to be so radical and have to live against everything in the world.
But the church has always insisted that “No, you are actually heretics. We are suppose to be in the world, but not of it.”
How does that work, Father? You have now presented two very opposite claims.
Pie chart mindset
Pretty natural way to think because we have either paper daily planners or calendars in our phones.
Calendars on phone tell us they conflict
Hour here, half hour there
How do love the Lord with all our hearts when we’ve only got 24 hours and we needs to pack the kids’ lunches and go to meetings and try to sleep sometime?
7% Monday, Wednesday is really busy so 3%, but Friday is good—I can spend a half hour in prayer and then I’ll read a religious book and call my mom.
Fr. Kilcawley’s analogy: Pie chart divides up the day and they conflict
Instead, think of Russian nesting dolls: the doll inside the doll inside the doll
Like little eggs, all inside each other
What are you doing? “Getting sunscreen > vacation tomorrow > family > vocation > love of God”
God > family > spouse > chore > therefore running to Walmart
Better approach because it gives a sense of hierarchy and priority, without division
Doesn’t divide or take away: “God vs. family vacation”
Instead it’s “family vacation within God”
How do you apply this mindset—the Russian nesting dolls mindset—with a specific good?
A thing we could turn into an idol.
How do we keep them in line with God?
Even the very great goods of our family or our kids or our job
Because that is what idolatry is: God is the Creator. He creates all of creation. And then we, a creature ourselves, choose something in creation and raise it up above the Creator…that’s idolatry.
Worshipping animals or the local volcano God 3,000 years ago or these other things in 2018
How do we—with any one good thing in front of us—how do we not put that above God the Creator?
How do keep perspective?
We can take any good thing, and if we correct or sharpen these 3 “lenses” of how we see them, we will be in better shape and honor God rather than fall into idolatry.
- Base, foundation
>> God as the source of all
- Goal, what do we see it as trying to get us to?
>> if we have goal right, whatever it is serves Him
- See them a shot through with God’s glory and purpose
That’s what the Psalms do.
150 songs: Glorying in what God has made, how beautiful and awesome, and the works he has done in humanity
Turn to p. 14, 17th Sunday of Ordinary Time, opening prayer
O God, protector of those who hope in you, without whom nothing has firm foundation, nothing is holy, bestow in abundance your mercy upon us and grant that, with you as our ruler and guide, we may use the good things that pass in such a way as to hold fast even now to those that ever endure.
Firm foundation: the base
You as ruler and guide: final goal and gives of purpose
Yes, use the good things that pass away!
Those things aren’t bad; and this help us put them in perspective
We want to use these good things; to appreciate them.
Let’s look at: gardening, time on the lake, our family
Gardening: Co-creator with God , like Adam, appreciate working alongside
Glorify Him: praise him for beauty day, weather, lake, scenery, health in bodies to swim and waterski
Pro-creator, make things with me, human things, people things!
Family is a great good, but we know that any number of younger sibling have been offered as sacrifice on the altar of the older kids’ events and dreams
Youngest kid: “Yeah basically I never had a summer vacation; just grew up on the soccer sidelines and baseball bleacher of all around the Midwest.”
Offered up to the God of summer league travel
Goal, final destination
Be successful, take care of family, provide
Great, we need that.
Not saying quit you job and start home. Or not work to full potential.
How do we keep in perspective?
Goal: Is it just to get ahead? Can become an idol.
Bigger promotion, salary, 401k? Can become an idol.
Many families have been offered up on that altar of a career.
Or the praise we get for “Hey man that was a great presentation!”
Is that bad? No, we need that. But praise can become an idol.
Does the goal come back to God?
Graduation speaker a couple years ago at Benedictine:
Most people graduating are focused on upcoming career and salary and fretting decisions about that
But most likely, you won’t even have that same job in 10 years
Focus on discerning: What is my vocation? What kind of person do I want to marry and start a family with? What kind of family do we want to have?
50 years down the road, those topics will have proven more consistent and probably an lot more instrumental then the job you got at 23.
Is the focus on the job as an end in itself, or as means to greater ends?
The goal of these good things: Is it culminating in God?
Shot through God’s presence and purpose
So many things that are great goods, but we can screen God out of them
Many people have called them the greatest idol in America
Kind of worship the Huskers
Big old cathedral off of I-180 where the whole state worships together
Huskers kind of stink this year, but back in 1995, we know who we were worshipping
And I think we say some reflections of that idolatry back in August with Mr. Frost too if we are honest.
Individual towns, schools, clubs, very easy thing to idolize
Yesterday, Wahoo girls won second straight state volleyball title
Couple weeks ago, the Neumann softball girls almost did the same thing
On Friday night both local football teams were playing in the state semi-finals
4 out of the last 5 boys basketball championship games have had either Wahoo or Bishop Neumann, and twice it was them against each other.
This is an amazing town
But then it all comes down to perspective
Do we let our activities be shot through with God’s grace and glory?
John Paul II loved sports
Sports as a “School of virtue”
Goalie for his soccer team
Loved hiking and skiing and swimming
But always saw them as a means to a greater end
Grow in virtue: leadership, teamwork, discipline, focus
Virtue for when a call doesn’t go your way, so you say “I’m not going to fight, not going to yell or pout; I’m going to accept this.”
When we don’t get the position on the team we want, to have the humility to say “I’m either going to have to work harder or have the humility to say ‘That’s not me.’”
That’s a great chance to grow in virtue
Every win and every loss are chances to grow.
Beautiful way in which John Paul II saw sports, but that only happens if we see God’s purpose behind the things we love and can let those graces reach us.
If we see our hobbies and sports and activities as ways to grow in virtue and to glorify God and show His excellences, then they become amazing building blocks
But if we make them an idol, and love them only in themselves, then we are back to not loving God with all our heart, mind, and soul.
Putting those good things in the right perspective, so we can right enjoy them
So that we can properly say that prayer and have nothing to worry about:
“that we may use the good things that pass
in such a way as to hold fast even now to those that ever endure.”