Fidelity to the truth and good PR don’t always go together


Homily for the readings of August 23, Monday of the XXI week in OT year II

Today’s psalm offers us a challenge: Proclaim God’s marvelous deeds to all the nations.

The Pharisees and scribes in the time of Jesus had already heard this challenge, and apparently were doing something about it – but the wrong thing. The Lord says in today’s gospel reading that they would “traverse sea and land to make one convert”, which was good, but that they ruined it all by then imparting erroneous teachings to their converts. They made complex rules that disregarded the true spirit of faith. They guaranteed themselves respect and admiration by being the experts in knowing and teaching these laws, while they failed in their primary task of bringing people to God. Pride, greed and vanity had gotten in the way. They had popularity and great PR, but they lost the truth in the process.

In the first reading, St Paul writes to the people of the Church of Thessalonia, who got it right. They held on to the truth with a sincere faith, and persevered through “persecutions and afflictions”. They made sincere efforts to live the Gospel, and as a result their community gave glory to God. They kept the Truth and grew in their love of it, at the cost of persecution and suffering.

We are presented with a similar choice today. On one hand, we can come up with complex rationalizations that allow us to compromise on truths of faith in order to have great media PR, like some Christian communities that have caved in on important issues in the spirit of “political correctness”. If we choose this path we can end up like the Pharisees: keeping up good appearances in the eyes of the world and a sense of self-importance, but failing to achieve salvation.

The other option is to follow great Catholics like our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI, and be faithful to the truth even when it is unpopular. We will probably face opposition and persecution, but that is a good sign; it puts us in the company of the apostles, disciples and martyrs. Many people suffer greatly for their faith today, in countries throughout the world where religious freedom is denied.

So let us strive to remain always faithful to the gift of faith we have received. May God the Father through our Lord Jesus Christ “make us worthy of his calling”, successful spreaders of God’s word, so that “the name of Jesus may be glorified in [us], and us in him”.

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About Matthew Green

I am a translator, origami artist/teacher, and photographer, a blogger, former philosophy professor, and I love to sing. You can see my photos on Flickr and buy prints of some of them on Fine Art America. You can find me on Instagram, Twitter (@mehjg), and in various and sundry other social media sites on the web.
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