And the Word was made Fuzzy



I've been Catholic long enough that I know what homily will be preached for any given reading.

And so when the Gospel is Jesus appearing to the men on the way to Emmaus, I cringe.  I know the homily.  The homily will be ...

They recognized Him in the breaking of the bread!  Isn't that great!!  Just like we do!!!

Except we don't.

It's hard to be frank on this subject without sounding bitter or becoming bitter, but if we are challenged to bear our cross daily, then we dare not ignore the cross or pretend as if it's not there.

And our cross in the Catholic Church is this.  The Catholic Church, at the parish level, is hardly recognizable as a Church.  We don't recognize Jesus in the breaking of the bread.  We don't recognize Jesus.

As a rule, there are three types of homilies that you'll hear at 90% of American Catholic parishes across the country (and I have, remember, been to Mass all over the country, to hundreds and hundreds of different parishes over the years, and I am speaking from experience).  The three types of homilies (with rare exceptions) are ...

  1. The homilies that don't make any sense. 
  2. The homilies that make sense, but that portray Jesus as a vague nice guy who always loves us no matter what we do with a love that's indulgent like the love of suburban parents for their fornicating and depressed teenage children who are binge drinking and who get pulled over and arrested, but who get bailed out by daddy's good lawyer whenever they get in trouble: a love that is benign and ultimately neglectful.
  3. The homilies that are a combination of #1 and #2.
Oh, and one more ...

      4.  Joy!

Today's homily was #3 with a touch of #4.  Once we got past the introductory anecdote, which had no relation at all to the Gospel and which the priest tried to force by misreading the Gospel (the priest talked about getting lost while driving and deliberately continuing in the wrong direction out of stubbornness; he then asserted that the disciples on the way to Emmaus were just like that because they were going to Emmaus when they should have been going to Jerusalem, which is where they came from to begin with ... to which those who were paying attention responded, "huh"?) - once we got past the "huh?" factor, we got to, "They recognized Him in the breaking of the bread!  Just like we do!  Joy!"  

Which led to another ... "huh?"   

Jesus is never a particular person in the modern Church.  He desires nothing in particular.  He has no actual personality.  He's a blur.  He makes no demands upon us.  His "joy" doesn't even seem to be related to the cross.  The cross is mentioned, but the "joy" is not connected to it ... whatever that "joy" is.  It's certainly not related to the music they play at Mass, that's for sure ("music", I'm afraid, is too generous a term for it; and it's never a sound that brings "joy" or anything resembling it).  It's all Inconsequential.

Now, in the old days, when I used to complain about this sort of thing at Waiting for Godot to Leave, (my old blog, where I was foolish enough to allow comments), readers would say one or more of the following ...
  • It's not like that at my church!  I go to St. Somewhere, and it's great at St. Somewhere!
  • You are so judgmental.  You need to go to confession.
  • Why are you complaining?  I love the music at Mass.
But my point is this.

This is not something we should put up with.  I don't know the solution, but swallowing it is not the solution.

One obvious solution is this.  Read the Bible.  We are fed the Eucharist at Mass, but we are not really fed the Word.  But it is within our reach.  With the internet, you can read almost any translation that's out there, and you can even read Scripture in its original language.  And you can find the sort of homilies that we should be hearing but are not.  And if you read the Scripture daily, and study it, and pray over it, and read it in context over and over again in your life, you will at least be fed by the intellectual Word God has given us.  It takes effort, but so do all good things.

Putting up with what we've got, with or without complaint, does no good at all.

***

UPDATE - By coincidence, a Facebook friend, who is apparently a priest in Africa, has posted this ...
Do you have a Bible? How often do you read it? I have come to realize that people either read the Bible daily or almost never...