SATURDAY HOMILY: The Prescription for America's Healing
If you need proof, listen to the conversations of people or look at their Facebook postings. So much of it is senseless, stupid and inane.
Consider the entertainments that captivate the public's interest from Lady Gaga (although her light is fading) and the Kardashians to Glee, Dancing with the Stars and the spate of vampire themed movies and shows.
Then there's MTV which had to reinvent itself because the 24 hour music video format long ago ran its course. Still dedicated to sleaze, MTV's menu of programming, which includes popular shows like "Snooki" and "Jersey Shore," makes MTV deserving of the nickname, "EMPTY-V" ("empty viewing").
I could give you many more examples from the world of sports, fashion, advertising, music, etc., that underscore the vapidity and moral decadence of our modern culture but I will spare you.
As a culture we have become the polar opposites of the great St. John the Baptist who was anything but a "reed swayed by the wind." He was not a man carried away by boorish entertainments like the shallow, little man, Herod Antipas, who gave the order for his execution. Hence, all these centuries later the Baptist still entertains us (in the original sense of the Latin inter- + tenire, meaning to hold our attention) and the depthless Herod completely bores us.
As the Christmas Season of the new liturgical year rapidly approaches its grand finale with the Baptism of the Lord this coming Sunday, the blessed figure of Christ's precursor once again enters the spotlight in today's Gospel.
John the Baptist is not by any means a peripheral figure in the history of salvation. In the "ranking" of the saints in the Church's litanies, for example, he is always near the top.
Over the centuries we see St. John the Baptist vying with St. Joseph for the "spot" in the list of Saints which comes after Our Lady and the Angels. This, of course, is how we view it through the lens of our earthbound existence. In heaven, needless to say, there is no jockeying for positions of honor or prestige.
Fact is among all the holy men and women of history there are few greater than St. John the Baptist. Why is this so?
First, we have the testimony of Jesus Himself who said: "I tell you the truth: Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist ... (St. Matthew 11:11).
Second, there are the extraordinary circumstances surrounding his unlikely birth. He came into this world through the marital embrace of his aged parents, Zachary and Elizabeth.
Elizabeth had been unable to conceive throughout her long married life until shortly after the Angel had told her dumbstruck husband that their prayer had been heard. Elizabeth would conceive and bear him a son! The Angel even told the Zachary the name he was to give to this child.
There is an important observation to be made here: the angel told Zachary that "their prayer had been heard." What prayer? Their ceaseless prayer to God that He would bless their marriage with children. How completely alien to the mindset of our antecedents in the faith is our modern, first world attitude toward marriage and the openness to life.
In the Bible and in Christian influenced societies children are considered a great blessing. In the society in which we live, children are considered a burden or even worse, a curse.
In 2008 when the now twice-elected president Barack Obama was candidate Obama he made a very telling, off-teleprompter remark. At a campaign rally in Pennsylvania, when addressing the issue of sex education and related matters, he said:
"I've got two daughters, 9 years old and 6 years old. I am going to teach them first of all about values and morals. But if they make a mistake, I don't want them punished with a baby."
At the time, his calculating handlers and delirious supporters tried to argue that this was an off-the-cuff remark and that Obama did not really mean it quite that way. But he did. When he went off script, the unvarnished Barack Obama and what he really thinks, was revealed.
He said he will teach his daughters "values and morals." By that he meant to say he will tell them: be sure to use contraception. And, if it doesn't work (which is often the case), kill the baby. This is the moral framework out of which President Obama operates and, sadly, it is a moral framework which obviously resonates with the millions of Americans who voted for him not just once, but twice.
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