Hi everyone, this is my homily for the 14th SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME. The readings for today’s Mass can be found at http://usccb.org/bible/readings/070118.cfmhttp://usccb.org/bible/readings/070818.cfm Thanks as always for reading; sharing this blog on your social media sites; and your feedback and comments. I appreciate it. Have a good week – God Bless – Fr Jim
Quick commercial… Newman Catholic at Montclair State is ending celebrating our 50th Anniversary of the Opening of the Newman Center. We’re trying to raise $25,000 for the establishment of a scholarship in honor of one of our previous chaplains, Fr. Art Humphrey, as well as to support our ongoing mission and ministry to the Montclair State University community. If you’re interested, please check out: http://www.msunewman.com/50th-ann-appeal for more information and a link to donate on line. Thank You!
Social media is probably never going away (well Myspace did… poor Tom) But most of these enterprises have become billion dollar corporations. And in a lot of ways, I know it’s been a good thing and definitely changed things in my life. But the concerns and problems that people have with all of it are legitimate. And one that really concerns me is seeing some of the really negative psychological effects it’s had – especially (but not limited to) younger people. As they (or maybe I should be saying we) try to navigate this social media dominated world- what is it we usually see? Often times people that we know or are somehow acquainted with sharing what appears to be all the great things that they’re experiencing in life; all the exciting things going on with their families; all the interesting things that they’re encountering in their jobs or in school. But a growing concern is how these types of things are causing negative feelings among many people. For example, a guy sees on facebook a bunch of his friends posting pictures of themselves having a great time in New York on a Friday night, maybe they’re at the Yankee game and they just saw them destroy the Mets or the Red Sox or something. (Lets use a legitimate hypothetical) Anyway, after liking the picture, he keeps seeing that picture and goes from thinking “that’s cool – looks like they had a good time” to “I would’ve liked to be at that game” to “I wonder why they didn’t invite me to go” to “no one ever invites me to anything” to “I have no friends.” This type of thing happens with shares of marriages, new jobs, college acceptances. It sounds overly dramatic, but for many, social media posts becomes this vicious cycle of negativity mixing envy, jealousy and then just self-loathing, self doubt to where the person experiences depression. One study says that it’s gotten so bad that young adults who use social media are three times as likely to have depression or anxiety than those who don’t. And one of the reasons is because people start looking at the world around them- or the social media presented version of the world – and see perfect versions of everyone around them. Think about it – we can take 3000 pictures of the same thing to get the one where the light is right, the smile is perfect – and if not, we can go and edit that too. Everything is presented as perfect. So its no wonder people in the silent recesses of their hearts and souls feel discouraged, disappointed and then depressed and anxious that they can’t ever catch up.
But in today’s second reading, what did we hear? Paul talking about what he phrased as this “thorn in the flesh” that was tormenting him. To many of us, that might sound like a “thorn in the side” causing us to wonder who was it that was annoying Paul? It might have been a person, but the phrasing and original words make it very elusive so that it might have been a sickness, it might have been a temptation that he was struggling with – we don’t know for sure what it was. Whatever it was though, it was bad enough that Paul refers to it as something coming from Satan “to beat” up Paul… it causes so much suffering in Paul’s life that three times he begs the Lord for it to be relieved of him.
And so it is with us. We have to be real and to be honest especially in this facebook-perfect world of ours to remember that: No one in this world is perfect. No one’s life is perfect. No one’s spiritual life is perfect. But Jesus is able to work in dramatic and substantial ways if we see him for who He is and welcome him into our worlds. When people limit Jesus, or diminish him – and his effects, then his effect is limited in their lives,- and then we might as well wallow and look for company to be miserable with. Like those in the Gospel. Here where the ones who knew him the most, his hometown crew – people he knew from childhood. And their stubbornness, their biases, their egos saw Jesus as simply that carpenter’s kid, Mary’s son…