Homily: It’s Not Rocket Science

July 19, 2018

I am on vacation this week and will be re-posting the top homilies (most-read homily posts) from the past 5+ years of the From the Deacon’s Desk blogsite. Thank you for following my blog!

The following is a homily from a school Mass in November 2017 (All-Saints Day):

When I was in kindergarten, the “rules” of the classroom were painted on the wall for all to see. Three colorful animal figures were on display, each holding a sign. One sign said, “Be nice!” Another said, “Share!” And a third said, “Help others!”

The strategy of using these three simple messages made sense. Can you imagine trying to write up all of the possible rules needed for 5 or 6 year-olds? The list of all of the possible things that could go wrong, and the number of rules that would be needed to ensure that they wouldn’t go wrong, would be endless.

So, the school kept it clean and simple; they focused on how we should live our lives and interact with others. Do these three things and everything will be OK. And while my memory isn’t crystal clear from when I was a 5-year-old, I’m pretty sure everything was OK.

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Turning my attention to today’s readings: The Jewish people had well over 600 precepts (or laws) the faithful were expected to follow. Half of the list included things they needed to do, the other half things they needed to avoid doing.

When He offered the beatitudes we heard detailed in today’s gospel, Jesus attempted to do the same thing my kindergarten had done – keep things clean and simple and focus on how we should live our lives and interact with others.

The beatitudes were offered in response to the scholars of the Jewish faith, in particular the Pharisees. If you have been following along with the daily readings over the last few months, Jesus had been continually challenged by the Pharisees: “The law says this, but you do that.” They challenged Him on healing on the Sabbath, eating without washing his hands, dining with sinners, and on and on.

The beatitudes offered a teaching moment, a way for Jesus to say, “Don’t get so caught up in the law itself that you lose sight of the spirit of the law.”

Focus instead, on the core values. What would Jesus paint on the walls of His kindergarten?

Blessed are they who mourn – He would paint in big letters, Be compassionate

Blessed are the meek – Be humble 

Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness – Do the right thing

Blessed are the merciful – Forgive others

Blessed are the peacemakers – on the wall He would paint, Be peaceful

There is an old poem called, Everything I ever needed to know, I learned in kindergarten. Jesus affirms that sentiment with the beatitudes.

Today is All Saints Day. One thing each of the saints we celebrate had in common was living a life that included obedience to these simple core values.

In kindergarten it was, “Be Nice,” “Share,” and “Help Others.”

In everyday life, Jesus tells us it is, “Be Compassionate,” “Be Humble,” “Do the Right Thing,” “Forgive Others,” and “Be Peaceful.”

It’s not rocket science. It is a simple message focused on how to live our lives and interact with others.

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