I would not give you false hope
4th Sunday Ordinary B 2015

Tom Bartolomeo
4th Sunday Ordinary B 2015
Deuteronomy 18:15-20, Psalm 95
1 Corinthians 7:32-35, Mark 1:21-28
Reproduced with Permission

No, I would not give you false hope
On this strange and mournful day
But the mother and child reunion
Is only a motion away
Oh, little darling of mine

I can't for the life of me
Remember a sadder day
I know they say let it be
But it just don't work out that way
And the course of a lifetime runs
Over and over again

"No I would not give you false hope". Perhaps, we recognize the lyrics of the song, "Mother and Child Reunion" by Paul Simon which could as well be, "Father and Child Reunion". The lyrics, "on this strange and mournful day", could be a life changing event between a parent and child upon, for example, the death of a husband and father and the grief a mother and son or daughter share despite a long standing rift in their relationship. It may be that such an event can lead to reconciliation as the lyrics suggest, "is only a motion away".

The Apostle Paul in his letter to the Corinthians wrote about the troubles and anxieties people face, married or single, or moving from one state to the other. The Apostle Paul, hoped, however, "I should like you to be free of anxieties", single or married, so you may "please the Lord." (1 Corinthians 7:32-35).

The majority of young people today cohabit thinking they can avoid such anxieties and misgivings about marriage, but they learn sooner or later that their lifestyle only compounds their mistrust in forming a relationship, finding a perfect partner or simply having sex. The world does not disapprove and deceivingly promotes their hyper sense of self-confidence. They may have been taught at home and in school that their special qualities and their extraordinary sense of self-esteem, self-admiration and entitlement can achieve anything they choose. The phenomenon has reached such epic proportions today that it is now recognized as a serious personality disorder, (NPD) Narcissistic Personality Disorder which is the root cause of so many other anxieties and disorders: selfishness, anger, greed, vanity and worst of all, a detachment from others. They are taught that they are free, actually have a right to choose anything they want as long as they intend not to offend others. We are caught up in The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement which "chronicles the obsession that many Americans have with . . . themselves."[1] The researchers in their findings:

list the factors fueling the entitlement mentality: parenting, schools and a culture that builds self-esteem by giving everyone a trophy; the Internet, where all can shape their images, post their opinions and be their own publicist; celebrity culture and media, which teach Americans that they're entitled to be famous; and ready credit, which . . . allows people the fantasy of getting something and not paying for it right away.

Narcissism is absolutely toxic to society [the authors of the study demonstrate]. When faced with common resources, narcissists take more for themselves and leave less for others. They tend to be greedy and take too many risks. They feel entitled, don't think about consequences and think that everything will turn out great. And when things don't turn out great - as with a flailing economy? Often times, when confronted with adversity, failure or even mild setbacks, narcissists fall to pieces.[2]

If we doubt the credibility of these findings take a good look at the content of our television programming and advertisements. Even our news is filled with sensational stories about government excesses which pander the worst aspects of narcissism. One recent news program's headline read: "Buffalo schools spend $5.4 million on free plastic surgeries for teachers, despite massive deficit".[3] And all the while we revere Mary who when she learned she would be the Mother of God "proclaimed the greatness of the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my Savior for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant", on his "lowly servant". (Luke 1:46-48).

My homily is not meant as a commentary on secular values and politics except as they affect our true identities as God's children, pilgrims in this alien and dangerous world on a journey "through Christ our Lord, through whom you bestow on the world all that is good." [4].

My friends, there is nothing humble and meek in selfishness. Jesus called us to imitate him, "Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves". (Matthew 11:29). And, again, "For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and that of the gospel will save it." (Mark 8:35). As Christ said, " the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve." (Mark 10:45 ).

So many of us are not familiar with Jesus, have not read the Gospel of Jesus Christ or come to know him as a person and a model for their lives. The world and our ordinary premonitions do not understand. The world's focus is entirely material. It is a message the Church from the beginning has preached. The Apostle Peter, our first pope, wrote two short letters to the Church which comprise only three chapters each and express as well as any Papal encyclical how we should conduct our lives in this world. "All of you should be like-minded, sympathetic, loving toward one another, kindly disposed and humble", Peter said. "Do not return evil for evil or insult for insult. Return a blessing instead. This you have been called to do, that you may receive a blessing as your inheritance." (1 Peter 3:8-9).

"Beloved", Peter continued, "I urge you as aliens and exiles to abstain from the desires of the flesh that wage war against the soul." (1 Peter 2:11). "Wives, in the same way, accept the authority of your husbands . . . even if some of them do not obey the word, they may be won over without a word by [your] conduct when they see the purity and reverence of your lives." (1 Peter 3:1-2). " Finally, all of you, have unity of spirit, sympathy, love for one another, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or abuse for abuse; but, on the contrary, repay with a blessing." (1 Peter 3:8-9). "Thus he has given us, through these things, his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may escape from the corruption that is in the world because of lust, and may become participants of the divine nature." (2 Peter 1:4). "So we have the prophetic message more fully confirmed. You will do well to be attentive to this as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts." (2 Peter 1:19).

"I will not give you false hope [for] the course of a lifetime . . . over and over again . . . . [For our hope] is only a motion away."