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I am a Third Order Franciscan of the Province of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Homily for August 28

Sunday Homily for Matthew sixteen twenty one to twenty seven

Think back on the summer of a few years ago. Mark McGuire and Sammy Sosa were in a friendly rivalry for the home run title. It was a great sign of racial harmony. McGuire’s concern for his son was a model of what fatherhood should be. America again felt good about itself. Sosa said that we would never forget what they had done. Ah, but we did.
For while the world calls for heroes, many want them to fail. Heroes challenge us and make us uncomfortable. They make us look at ourselves and ask why we weren’t more like them.
Jesus did a great many good things and performed many great miracles. He healed the sick and raised the dead. But they still nailed him to a tree. The heroes of today find that the light of fame quickly direct our attentions to their flaws and those that we once praised become those that we now condemn.
Both Sosa and McGuire have been implicated in the use of steroids, Sammy Sosa was found using an altered bat that allowed him to hit farther. Sosa and McGuire are no longer spoken of as heroes, but are called cheaters. They are no longer symbols of the greatness of baseball but rather they have become symbols of the state to which baseball has fallen. For the hero isn’t perfect, then I don’t have to follow his example. I can tell myself – see he wasn’t a hero after all. I want my heroes, but I just want them to remain in the world of fantasy – not reality.
Well, there were only two people who were ever totally free from sin – the rest of us are all jerks, at least some of the time. Our Book of the Saints may speak of holy men and women that seem free of any imperfection, but the saints and heroes are just like us. They are people who struggle to do what is right and sometimes they fail.
Yes, it’s hard to be a hero, to do the right thing all the time. It’s difficult to answer Christ’s call to take up our cross, to follow Christ on a path that might lead into suffering. We don’t want to stand out. We don’t want prying eyes looking over us, discovering our sins. It’s easier to remain hidden, simply a voice in the every growing and always noisy crowd.
Yet, despite all of this – despite the whole world against them – despite the many people saying – don’t stick your neck out, don’t take that risk, just blend in with everybody else, the voice of many Peters saying “God forbid that any such thing ever happen to you!” – some still step forward, some still take up that cross, they risk humiliation and embarrassment, they willingly accept more difficulties for others sake.
Why? Perhaps it is because have a very stubborn and annoying God. Despite all we do to make life miserable for ourselves, God keeps saving us and bringing forth new heroes into our fallen world. Perhaps it is because it is because heroes, like Jeremiah, can do nothing else. Perhaps it is because these heroes realize that it is only through coming to the agony of the Cross that we can come to the glory of the Resurrection. Perhaps it is because these heroes come to see that the saint is not the one who is perfect, but the one who is striving to be perfect. The saint is not one who never falls, but one gets up one more time than he has fallen. The hero is not the one who is free from problems, but the one who doesn’t let those problems keep him or her from trying to make the world a little better. The hero is the one that reveals to us all too rarely the contrast between what we are and what God has made us to be.
Sosa and McGuire weren’t our heroes because of their bats. They weren’t our heroes because they could hit the ball better than most anyone. They were our heroes because of the sportsmanship they shared. They were our heroes because they showed us a world in which a father’s love for his son could be publicly demonstrated. In which the racial divide in our country could be bridged – even if for a brief while.
I think the words in Ken Burn’s documentary about baseball speak well of this conflicted life in which we live. “[Baseball] is a haunted game in which every player is measured against the ghosts of all who have gone before. Most of all, it is about time and timelessness, speed and grace, failure and loss, imperishable hope – and coming home.”
We too live a life in which taking up the way of cross means being confronted with the saints who have walked this path before us. This path is one which brings failure and loss but also brings with it grace and imperishable hope – hope in the care of a God who promises that in losing our life we will find it, hope that in finishing this path we will indeed be coming home.


Blogger curious servant said...

Thank you for the post.

I found a couple of little things that have made it easier for my readers.

Some readers really prefer larger print, so I enlarge everything one notch up. It makes sense, none of us are getting any younger.

Likewise, I put an extra space between paragraphs. It helps break it up a bit.

I have noticed other bloggers, especially the populat kids on the block, doing these things.

Thanks again for the post. I enjoyed visting your blog.

10:17 PM  
Blogger curious servant said...

Oops, sorry about the double space thing. I went on to read more of your blog and I see you have that covered in other postings.

10:19 PM  

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