Search This Blog

Get into the ring! How this works...

This is easy! Each week on Thursday I post my homily main focus for preaching this coming Sunday. What I am hoping for is a reaction from people in the pews. Does my "focus" connect with your daily life, faith, and experience? Or not? Either affirm the direction I am going in (by giving me an example from your life) or challenge me, ask for clarification! Questions are the best! Reaction rather than reflection is what I'm looking for here. Don't be afraid, get in the ring. Ole!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

October 30, 2011 - 31st Sunday of the Year

-Homily's available by email at
-scriptures for this Sunday at >
-I will be preaching at 4:00 Mass and 11:00 Mass.

Religious blindness to personhood is the worst

I am thinking that religious blindness (read: pharisaicalism) is the most damaging of all such blindnesses that plague our culture with disrespect. We usually are blinded to the Personhood and thus dignity of others because of their disturbing disguise. Others take things on themselves that we find offensive, disturbing and that distract or blind us to their dignity as persons. This has been my theme throughout Respect Life month.

The Pharisees however come up with a dangerous twist to this operation. They discover or design a difficult profile of religiosity that they can abide by. They are "able" religiously. They then impose this standard or profile or costume or disguise upon others. These others don't wear the disguise very well and then the pharisee disregards or disrespects the other because they are not living up to HIS standard. It's frightening and fierce. And it works very well.

I say it works well because it makes the broken, frail and imperfect Pharisee feel good about him/herself. The costume of perfect religious observance hides, consoles, and blinds the "unloved and unlovable Pharisee" even from her/himself. Self-hatred, the beginning of all disrespect for persons and life, is the devil's gift to the human family created in the Divine Image. Self-hatred is the blindness underlying all others that drives us to all manner of hateful thinking, speaking, acting, and choosing.

I propose that this pharisee's blindness to persons is worse than all the others because It is a misuse of God's gift of religion. It is using the most powerful force for Good in the world and twisting it into evil. This pharisaical blindness is a favorite weapon of the enemies of God. When the enemies of God see pharisaicalism they use it not only to hate but to get religion and God out of our social and political life. It is a very effective and powerful weapon in the culture wars between Good and evil of every age. Notice, for example, that whenever an insane or criminal person appears on the scene who has religious motives or associations, true religion becomes the "evil" that must be irradiated from society. Clever devil!

Being religiously motivated people ourselves, we have to beware of the temptation of the pharisee - fascination with our version of religious righteousness that allows us to judge others and blinds us to their value as dignified human persons. That is amazingly easy to do when you are living "right". It is, however, always wrong.

Is this temptation real in your life? Let me know if I'm just being pharisaical! :)


Anonymous said...

This so was my life! Catholic school in the '60s was brutal for me. I believed that if I wasn't perfect, God the policeman was waiting to ticket me. I was also terrified of my own father. What a combo! I did cast my self-jusgement onto others.
Thank God for bringing me back to the church. Painful as it was at the time, having an adult (at least adolescent:) understanding of God is well worth it.
Richard Rohr said, "God doesn't love you because you are good, he loves you because He's so good." A very transformative statement for me. Now through centering prayer and the teachings of contemplation, Catholicism is just where I want (and need) to be.

Anonymous said...

How well I understand you!
As a child I was told almost all of the time that "I will never be able to do anything good in this life." I believed it because my parents said so.
I did grow up disliking myself and afraid of doing things because...."I was unable to do anything," I was convinced that God disliked me so much because I was no good enough for Him. I blamed God many times for all my problems.
I was away from Church for 20 years..
The same God that I blamed often,
allowed me to know a person that sent me to a Centering Prayer Group. I had no idea what Centering Prayer-Contemplative Prayer was about. I know now, I have been practicing for 14 years.
As with you, this has been a blessing on my life.
I accept myself better and I know a have a Friend ready to help when in need, I just ask!.
In peace.

JoyFuralle said...

Real? Yes and no. You've left a big plot hole and I think people might not hear what you're saying.

Biggest problem being I've been blind to my blindness. And not only that, I've been taught very many pharisaical subtleties by my parents, family members, extended family members and Church community. Little did I know!!! It's not that all these people were awful it just didn't seem like good ruled or that love was the way. And I've taught pharisaical subtleties to my children, grown in many of them with friends and neighbors!

What you're talking, seeing, REALLY seeing, takes time...and courage and wisdom. The more probing questions you give, with examples, the more inner questioning you present to the Faithful, the more the Spirit can use that to penetrate people's minds and souls to have them see. Keep at it, Father, thank you!

Anonymous said...

I too grew up in the church of the 50s and 60s. The God presented to me was scary. I waited for the lightening bolt to strike from above, in response to my sins. I remember kneeling before the statue of the Blessed Virgin, willing her to move, so I would feel worthy or good. I wanted to be good enough.Afterall she appeared to saints. After coming back to the church, I like knowing that my God is compassionate and loves me for me and all my human faults. I'm not afraid of Him anymore. I still am a little hard on myself, should I be praying more, reading scripture, watching masses on TV? I know people that do all those things, I don't think it makes them any better than me. I am content to know God is always there for me, that Jesus died for my sins and that the Holy Spirit will give me wisdom when I need it.

anon 1 said...

The Matador’s reflection brought to mind one of the precious phrases from The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, “they should be drawn day by day into ever more perfect union with God and with each other, so that finally God may be all in all.” I realize this connection may not seem so obvious, but the reason it connected for me was because “pharisaicalism” destroys any chance of union with each other and ultimately with God. If I become caught up in the “standards,” they become a source of judgment of others which, in its most negative form, draws a dividing line between me and the one I’m judging. To “be drawn day by day into ever more perfect union” would have us apply our religion to that goal – working to understand each other, uniting where we see it possible, and growing together from there. It is with that kind of mindset that Paul’s teaching makes great sense, “With such affection for you, we were determined to share with you not only the gospel of God, but our very selves as well, so dearly beloved had you become to us.”

Jim said...

I think you have correctly identified an "easy" sin to commit...look at those religious people putting other people down, they think they're better than others. And then there is me in the pew scoffing at others in the pew that ignore a friendly smile and greeting because they're too busy being holy. And then I think, what good is this? And then I become the "just" judge.

JoyFuralle said...

You covered good ground, Father.

Last year I stood curbside for 40 Days for Life and prayed and stood. My sign read simply, "Smile! Your Mom chose Life!" I wasn't shocked by being flipped off, but what I was shocked at was how many seething, angry, contorted faces I witnessed. Incredible violence and hate! My heart and love(and prayers) went out with each person because I could very easily understand and relate to their viewpoint and anger. I used to think pro choice was an OK way to go.

Those of us picketing were talking among ourselves, what really, really bothered me was the "us" and "them" mentality. And that is the crux of the problem with respect among people involved in religion, thinking we got it right.

We really need to learn how to live and love and think as Catholics. Not sure that I know, but I'm learning day by day. Thanks again, Father.

Anonymous said...

If we consider ourselves "religious" people and we found the Inner Peace of God's Presence in our life, for sure that peace is going to motivate us
to approach others that WE THINK
( judging )? need to be involved in
our way of prayer.
Is this kind of "judging" always wrong too?

Anonymous said...

"The Way of the Disciple," by Erasmo Leiva-Merikakis, did arrive today.
Please, let me know how do you want to get it.... since we are anonymous!!