7 July 2019
14th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Luke 10:1-12, 17-20 + Homily
16 Minutes 14 Seconds
Link to the Readings:
(New American Bible, Revised Edition)
From the parish bulletin:
There is dark humor in counting the number of “motivational speakers” who flood public television stations, and go as quickly as they come, just like the profitable “self-help” books of the type that counsel: “God wants you to be happy.” In some churches, there is a tendency to replicate this kind of “snowflake” Gospel that shortchanges people out of the truth.
Our opioid generation, whether drugged chemically or culturally, has had more suicides than in any decade since the Second World War. It does not understand Socrates’ statement: “An unexamined life is not worth living.” Socrates was not “self-motivated” but was moved by the one True God for whom he searched as best he could long before Pentecost. Unlike modern motivational speakers who retire to Malibu or Hawaii to count their royalties, Socrates drank hemlock as a primitive, albeit heroic, sacrifice for objective truth.
There are those who would reduce Christ to a glorified motivational speaker. Thomas Jefferson edited the New Testament so that the Resurrection and Pentecost were irrelevant, making the Sermon on the Mount the pinnacle of Christ’s teaching. But this reduced the Messiah to an aphorist. Even had that been the case, there were others more verbose than any “Sage of Galilee.”
In the eighteenth century, the 4th Earl of Chesterfield wrote his son four hundred letters on how to live as a gentleman, oblivious to the fact that the youth had been born out of wedlock to a housemaid left to live in penury. A wiser author of epigrams was the last of the “Five Good Emperors,” Marcus Aurelius, who was a Stoic in the second century—and if you have to be a pagan, Stoicism is as good a way as any, if not as much fun as Epicureanism.
Both of those men warned against procrastination. Lord Chesterfield coined the phrase: “Never put off till tomorrow what you can do today.” This was wisdom, albeit snobbish, and not unlike Benjamin Franklin’s homely advice on how to make a man “healthy, wealthy and wise.” Marcus Aurelius was almost prophetic, and remarkably so since he left words he did not expect to be recorded but which ring true to Christ, when he wrote: “Think of your many years of procrastination; how the gods have repeatedly granted you further periods of grace, of which you have taken no advantage.”
The Gospel is not a compendium of maxims, nor is Christ an amiable motivational speaker expecting to retire in Galilee and count his royalties. When he tells the scribe to follow immediately and not bury his father, and forbids another would-be follower to tarry to say farewell to his family, he is speaking of procrastination that defers the primacy of God to tomorrow. But Christ can only be a soul’s Saviour if he saves today: “Today if you should hear his voice, harden not your hearts . . .” (Hebrews 3:15).