Saturday, July 03, 2010

Homily for the 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time

I am sending you out like lambs among wolves.(Luke 10:3)
Images of Christians, and especially clergy, in the media, are rarely very complimentary. We are rarely nasty people, but usually very funny ones. Remember the bumbling Vicar in Dad’s Army? Or the foolish Vicar played by Dick Emery? And Catholic priests are often portrayed as Irish - a joke in itself, of course - and often taking a bit too much pleasure in their liquid refreshment. They never say “More Tea, Vicar?” to a priest, do they?
Christians are seen to be remote from real life, unrealistic about the stresses and strains of real living, naïve and gullible - easily taken in by those who want to take advantage of them.
Perhaps it suits society to see believers in this way - harmless, but well, not really with it. Innocents. Lambs. Perhaps, most of the time, this is how persecution works ... not the violent persecution of the past, but the silent persecution of smug smiles and smirks.
But of course, things are very different. Ordinary Christians know all the pains of life that everyone else does. Family arguments and breakdown. The suffering of sickness and disability. Bereavement and loneliness. Disappointments in life, and in people. Do people really think we do not know these things?
And priests work in prisons and hospitals. They meet murderers and the terminally ill - far more often than most people ever come across these people or situations. They counsel the distressed and the anxious. They support those who struggle with life - the refugee, the accused, the deserted. They know about the routine habitually sins of daily life, and they guard the secrets of those who would otherwise hang their heads in shame.
These Lambs, these innocent Lambs, are very aware of the wolves around them. These Lambs face up to the Wolves of ridicule. Wolves of indifference.
These Lambs of God.

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