Just a few words on today’s gospel. Jesus is sending His disciples to proclaim the Good News. In a way He wants them to be like Jeremiah, to be of good courage and speak all the louder when the powers that be demand silence. He gives His disciples and the future church the task of moving from the private to the public forum, from the whisper to the proclamation, from the dark to the light. This would be a costly task but they were to trust the truth that they would never be alone – He would be with them, they were of more value than sparrows and the very hairs on their head were numbered.
Do not fear those who can kill the body but cannot kill the soul, rather fear him who can destroy both body and soul in hell. What is it in our day that can destroy our souls, deaden our spirits?
You probably heard this example before: if you take a frog and put it in a pot of boiling water the frog will immediately leap out of the pot. If you take that same frog and put it in a pot of lukewarm water and then gradually turn up the heat you will end up boiling the frog.
I think that what can kill our souls, our spirits is not something that shocks and alarms us, it is something more sinister, more devious. What can destroy our souls could a pervading mind set or attitude that we never have the courage to question and gradually may have become our own. We can ask ourselves have we become desensitized to ways of thinking, acting and relating that are basically unchristian, un-Christ-like.
Take these examples: We can loose our Christian sense of justice when we allow ourselves to get used to the reality of men and women living on the streets, when we accept homelessness as something normal, when we are not bothered by the number of working poor in our city, when we think food banks are here to stay. These are the mind sets that can steal our souls of any sense of care and concern for our brothers and sisters in need.
We lose our Christian sense of the dignity and worth of the human person when we allow ourselves to become numb to wrongness of the recreational sex seen on so many TV shows, when we see as normal using and abusing other people, not as persons worthy of respect, but as objects to be used for pleasure, and when we see as normal or typical, relationships devoid of any sense of commitment or loyalty.
We loose our Christian sense of honesty and integrity when imagine it to be ok to cheat on expense accounts or taxes, when we betray the trust others put in us, when we see advantages as there for the taking because that’s just the way things are done in business or politics.
We lose our sense of our own worth when we see human life as disposable, when we see the number of abortions in the country as just another statistic or when we buy into the mind set that our seniors, who have contributed so much to our community through the years, as financial burdens on our health system, and the chronically ill as people who should be, for want of a better term, put down. We lose our sense of human worth and dignity when we find ourselves in favor of the death penalty.
We lose our sense of integrity when we are not bothered that commitments and vows are so lightly broken and lives are broken.
Mindsets, these attitudes such as these, that are so common in our society are like the lukewarm water that slowly boils the souls right out of us and we lose our identity as Christian men and women.
The important thing here is to face head on the attitudes and mindsets that are hurting our souls, killing our spirits. What present day powers are dominating our hearts, our ways of choosing and acting? How we live our lives as Christian men and women should actually insult and assault the pretending powers of our times. Jesus always meant us to be a cut above and counter-culture to the times. “You have heard it said by the ancients, love your neighbour and hate your enemies … but I say to you”. Jesus is always calling us to new ways of living, loving and relating.
Let’s face it, there are all kinds of attitudes and mindsets, ways of acting and relating to others, that if we let them become our own, can deaden any Christian value and virtue that we have.
So as we continue to celebrate this Mass we can pray for ourselves and for each other that by the mindsets and attitudes by which we live, our lives may always bear witness to the teaching of Jesus so that we always acknowledge him before others.