WHY EVERYTHING SUCKS
Hi everyone - here’s my homily for the SIXTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME - FEBRUARY 14, 2010. The readings can be found at http://www.usccb.org/nab/021410.shtml. Thanks for checking in, reading and your feedback... God Bless - Father Jim
I’ve figured it out. I’ve figured it out. What? Everything - Why Everything STINKS
Actually, I haven’t come to that conclusion, that was Craig Ferguson, who among Jay Leno -David Letterman and Conan O Brien is probably “the forgotten” late night TV talk show host. (And he used another word that starts with “S” that I didn’t feel comfortable saying at Mass) A few months ago he began an opening monologue with those words. It generated so much interest, becoming a You-tube hit being seen by hundreds of thousands of people that it appeared as an “opinion” piece nationally in newspapers (which confused me how this comedic rant had now moved into the realm of an opinion...)
The jist of his argument, all done rather humorously, is that since the 1950's marketing people, television people realized that by marketing to young people they could achieve lifetime brand loyalty. But that resulted in what he calls a “deification of youth” in culture. One result is that we now prize “the young and the stupid” in a way no other culture has “in the history of the world.
What seemed interesting to me is that while he’s making this argument to an audience made up of the people he’s kind of categorizing as “young and stupid.” How can he get away with that (with an audience that was roaring in hysteria)? I think because while people might not agree with all of his arguments, they buy the premise.
That everything STINKS.
Just looking at our campus newspaper the other day Page one had a special report - the cafeteria STINKS, the arts building STINKS; the economy STINKS (for some reason it seems to be hitting Freshmen particularly bad).
We look at regular newspapers, it’s not that different: this past week - the weather STINKS the politicians STINK the economy STINKS
And in my own world, you know what STINKS? My iPhone. Yeah, there I’ve said it. I don’t know how many gigs it’s got 32, 64 - I don’t even know what gigs are, or why I need them. All I know is the Australian saleswomen was telling me how much I needed more Gigs and it was only $100 and all I know is that my apps don’t do half the stuff they show on those commercials and nearly every phone call, at some point in the conversation the phone cuts the conversation off. I’m sure the new iPhone or the iPad or the I-AM-INSANE-FOR-CONTINUING-TO-BUY-THESE-STUPID-THINGS will fix all that.
To be honest, I don’t really hate my iPhone. But you know it does let me down. It doesn’t live up to the hype. It doesn’t live up to the expectations I might have had for it. And when we think about it, that’s the thing that drives the “everything STINKS” mentality. We are constantly looking for the next best thing to improve what we already have. The next new thing that’s going to satisfy some other desire that we think is important (my life was so deprived before I could receive emails on my phone)
What is it that will make us happy? If tomorrow we woke up and the unemployment rate went down to 4% would we all of a sudden say “the economy doesn’t STINK anymore.” Funny thing, the unemployment rate was that low just about 4 years ago, and there were a lot of people who felt the economy STUNK back then. If the campus cafeteria offered Burger King, Pappa John’s and Taco Bell as the options of cuisine choice, I’m sure we’d find people saying the cafeteria STILL STINKS because they don’t offer McDonalds, Dominoes and KFC.
As we walk with our STINKY iphones on our crappy campuses in our crummy economy, this Gospel has Jesus meeting us, as we come from all the different places we come from. He looks us in the eyes (so you know it’s important)
And for as many times as we hear this sermon of his, for many of us, it doesn’t make sense. Jesus identifies all the people that for the most part we would identify as having LIVES THAT STINK and calls them blessed, and tells those of us who are pursuing non- crappy things WOE. Weird isn’t it? – the Poor - the Hungry - those who are Weeping - those Hated for His name – Not exactly the conditions we often associate with feeling like we’re “blessed” or feeling (as this gospel says in a different translation) “happy.”
One thing that’s important is clarifying what Jesus is not saying in this sermon:
- Jesus isn’t trying to pour sugar on top of bad situations “oh you’re poor, that’s okay, you’re blessed...” - that’s being insincere. If that were the case he wouldn’t hold up taking care of the poor as a thing disciples are called to do.
- Jesus isn’t trying to create a class warfare thing by saying yeah all those of you enjoying life right now, enjoy it while it lasts - your’s is coming, the poor are going to get even with you – that’s being uncharitable For a lot of people, that’s how they (mis) interpret this teaching of Jesus.
The sermon on the mount with it’s blessings and woes points out the opportunities and pitfalls that these different situations offer us. Because the reality is that no matter what kind of life we have, it can STINK; My iPhone, your cafeteria, this economy - it can all STINK because we think it should be better. And for those who are poor, hungry, weeping, yeah their lives STINK in many, many obvious ways.
The reason that the poor, hungry and weeping are blessed though is that when you have nothing else, the only thing you learn you can rely on is the Lord. You see his presence. You’re grateful for the many small blessings that you experience that he generously bestows. And you realize that - yes, these things are terrible, but I am blessed.
The reason that Jesus says the Woe-d are so woeful is that they are too distracted, too critical, too disappointed as they wait for the newest app to satisfy their unhappiness.
Jesus is trying to break through to us - telling us the key to our happiness:
Blessed are we because God’s love is not illustrated or demonstrated in the doling out of material possessions.
Blessed are we because God’s presence isn’t revealed simply in the miraculous but often times in the everyday encounters.
Blessed are we because God isn’t trying to win a popularity contest gaining throngs of adoring fans by giving them what they want - He is trying to win our heart by giving us all that we could ever need...
I’ve figured it out, I’ve figured it out...What? Everything... we can find everything we hope for, everything we need, if we are clear who it is we need to look to to supply it.
Posted by Fr. Jim Chern