The idolatry of options
Here’s my first weekend homily in Pettis county, specifically at St. Patrick’s Church.
Idolatry. A great word to start your first homily with, huh? Maybe for some it’s a big scary word. For others maybe you think of the ancients Gods of the Greek and Roman religions? Maybe if you’re like me and you’re a 3rd generation Tiger, you think of cheering for Kansas.
But what does Idolatry really look like today? A professor of mine once said, “the problem today is that with the internet, we have all the answers, but not the right questions.”
It’s true right, today we have so much information, not only available to us, but also seemingly being thrown at us all the time through our TVs, computers, radios, cell phones, social media etc. Then on top of that, we’re told, it really doesn’t matter what you choose or pick, because it’s just your opinion, and there is no objective truth. That is of course as long you’re not offending anyone by going against the mainstream agenda.
The other day I was speaking with a young mother who was upset because people were criticizing her for raising her children in the faith, saying that instead they were letting their child “just choose.” She said to me, “I don’t let my children just choose if they want to brush their teeth at night, or eat whatever they want, because they’d be eating chocolate for breakfast every morning.” Furthermore she added, plus, if the child is never exposed to the faith, how could they even make a choice to begin with? The attitude of just letting them chose is a lie, because you’ve already made the decision for them.
So how does this relate to idolatry? Well, in the face of so many options and messages being spread around, what, when, why and who are we listening to? Are we listening only to the information of the world, the media. Now don’t get the message i’m 100% anti-media, in fact i’m a former journalist. But rather, how can we think more critically about what information we’re receiving? How are we prioritizing our time? Sadly, summer’s coming to a close, and this week, school starts back up again. So we’ll have to make decisions about what sports to play, what clubs and activities to join etc.? In a sense we’ve given into the idolatry of options. With so many options, which ones will we choose? It doesn’t really matter anyways right? How can we make sense of it all? In other words, from today’s Gospel, we begin to ask, “to whom shall we go?” So while we are left asking the question, St. Peter thankfully already had the answer, for he answers his own question stating, “You have the words of eternal life. We have to come believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.” Peter is saying, in the face of the options, why would I want anything but you.
So today’s Gospel is calling us away from the idolatry of options, from the distractions, the relativism, and instead to place our priority, our focus, our attention on Christ. To ask God to be the one to help us sort out all the options and to help us choose him. To say to the world no, my choices do matter, they mean something. And yes, like the disciples in the Gospel, it’s something that is hard, but we can’t let that stop us or scare us, for, “it is the spirit that gives life, while the flesh is of no avail.” So when we are tempted to turn away, or when we’re challenged, do we give up? No, we need God’s grace to help us. That’s a part of why I’m here, to help you all makes sense of everything, to help in any way I can, to help lead you all to Christ. I ask for your patience as we start out this journey together. After all, I’m not only new to Sedalia, I’m also new to the priesthood.
And no this rejection of the idolatry of options doesn’t mean that we can’t still do other things, like we much only be in Church doing Church things all the time. Last night I had a great time time at the Gremlins first game, some in the crowd already gave me the nickname of “Fr. Football.” Rather, all the things that we do, the things we say need to have the proper priority and place and they need to be focused towards our goal, towards the one who has, “the words of eternal life” the one, “we have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.”