Sunday, October 21, 2012

"The God Show"

In this year of faith, we have many reasons to
examine ourselves and see how we can improve the living out of our faith.  In terms of human achievement, when the only
“duty” we hold anyone to, including God and ourselves, is that we get all we
can, we can be sure that we will eventually lose everything of value. You
simply cannot be a friend of God and excuse yourself from offering him the
praise that is due by the complete sacrifice of your life.  Authentic worship will always reflect
that.  This seems to be a most important
moral matter.

I have an image to plant in your head.  It's a TV “unreality” show.  It's called the God Show.  It happens every Sunday in Christian churches
everywhere and the show is all about which of those churches can supply the most entertaining,
participative, funny, feel-good experience that one can find.  It's all about getting more people and more
money, and, coincidentally keeping people from complaining about how boring Mass is.

One of the foundational principles of every
religious sentiment is that God is supreme and is to be honored, adored and
worshipped.  What does worship mean? And
why is it necessary?  I ask this because
it is easy to slip into thinking that God is like a kindly grandfather who
would never punish his grand children. In these times, we do not often see God as one to whom profound sacrifice
is to be offered.  In modern terms,
people today tend not to "feel" as though the most profound acts of
sacrfice and worship are owed to God. Note, I did just say owed to
God. This is a matter of justice and, thus, moral duty. One of the modern and
popular errors regarding religion is thinking that religion and worship should
make us feel good.  Unfortunately, this
thinking presents a great obstacle to spiritual growth.  This sort of thinking turns the Mass into
something we do for us, not something we offer to God and to which He invites us.  It means that we will not conform our minds
and hearts to God’s will, but to our collective view of the “values” we inject
into worship at Mass.

When Jesus asks the question, Who among you
would give your children a snake when they ask for bread, he turns the world's
way of thinking on its head.  We cannot
say this of anyone or anything else, but we can say it of God: God only acts
for your good. If that action of God looks like punishment or penance, and
indeed it does at times--even in the case of his dearly beloved Son Jesus--it
is always a door opening to supreme happiness. One might not like the taste of
the medicine, but in God's way, this medicine always restores to health and
always makes you better than you were before.

Authentic worship involves both elements,
giving glory to God and the sanctification of believers.  What current or trend is it that has
virtually removed the Cross from our religious practice?  Why has Catholic worship so often been made
to try to be a vehicle that for recognizing this thing or that thing?  Why do so many think that the way we
celebrate Mass is supposed to be something that makes one feel happy?  Are we really supposed to feel like we have
had fun when we come to Mass?  Or when
did preaching in all the Christian communities turn into an ongoing monologue
on ways to feel good about oneself?

There is no person's life that will allow them
to believe for very long that living a good and holy life will not involve the
carrying of the Cross.  What a disservice
we do to our God and to our faith when we turn Sunday into "The God
Show."  I do not deny that we can
admit a little light-heartedness into our Sunday experience, but I ask you, how
is it respectful of the truth of your life, if worship of God does not pull you
more deeply into the mystery of Christ's suffering and sacrifice.  Shouldn't you leave here understanding that
your sorrow over a child's trouble has been taken up into the mystery of
Christ's sacrifice? Shouldn't the reality of serious illness, anxiety about
one's security, or loss of the love of one's life reflected in not only the way
we feel, but also in what we say and do in our Sunday worhsip?

The person who understands the act of
worshipping God will be disposed to finding true meaning in Christ's offer to
us to take unto himself the trials and tribulations, humiliations,
self-sacrifice, and genuine surrender into what we offer the Father at each
Mass.  This becomes a way of life.  Through him and with him and in him, all
glory and honor is yours.  From the
offering of Christ, who takes to himself our sufferings and fears, we leave
with an assurance that the week ahead will also be an offering of sarifice and
praise to the Father that leads to true happiness for all eternity.  We will see in that week and in each day a
preparation for that final day when at last all of our burdens will be laid at
His feet. We proclaim your death and profess your resurrection until you come

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