The Church of Saint Agnes

1680 Dixie Highway, Fort Wright, KY 41011

The Church of Saint Agnes
1680 Dixie Highway, Fort Wright, KY 41011

Saint Agnes School | Contact Us

8th Week in Ordinary Time

Date: 
Mon, 02/27/2017
Author: 
Rev. Msgr. Donald Enzweiler

Part of me wants to apologize this morning.  A part of me doesn’t.  The part of me that doesn’t wins out.
I’ve been at St. Agnes for almost five years. 
And by this time you have experienced my approach to life:  I am a realist.
This plays itself out in a number of ways, but most prominently for you within this context,
right now:  proclaiming God’s word.
I’ll get right to the point:  I have little patience for sentimental idealism and conventional piety.
My instincts tell me….these contribute to complacent Christianity,
they cloud the process of spiritual discernment.
 
According to my observations, these approaches to discipleship are most often shallow
and often a way of avoiding what is difficult and complex.
(The inner voice says “I’m right and I don’t care what anyone else says.”)
They are an easy out with regards to the great problem of evil in the world.
Again, the inner voice says “All I have to do is remain positive,
all I have to do is engage in the rituals of religion and God will protect me from evil.”
 
This works until it is your family member or a close friend who is senselessly murdered.
I want to puke when someone says “this was God’s will” and “this will turn out for the good in the end.”  Bull hockey.
And it’s going to take more than prayer to navigate through the reality of such evil.
It’s going to take suffering, and knowledge, and understanding, and courage.
It’s going to take confrontation, and re-orientation, and struggle, and the pain of true self-discovery.
(Prayer is not the only spiritual work required of us.)
 
I know that some, maybe more than a few, don’t like me
because I don’t promote or encourage sentimentality or piety….
I don’t tell people that they should feel good and are doing good when they engage is these.
 
I’ve heard it said by guests on the Catholic television station,
I’ve heard it said from our own cathedral pulpit: “a priest who doesn’t practice popular piety,
isn’t worth his salt.”
I take offence at this.  It is an irresponsible statement.  I challenge the truth of it.
 
I don’t see my task as one of edification.
My task is to challenge.  I’m here to offend you, shock you, attack your blindness,
your self-deceit, your false religious security.
I’m here to subvert, to overturn and overthrow your superficial attitudes towards God.
The teachings of Jesus Christ are radical.  The truth of God is radical.
And there is a price for accepting this truth…the necessity of sacrificing a comfortable life.
The disciples didn’t follow Jesus because he made them feel good.
They followed him because they recognized the truth in him, the truth of God.
 
Jesus confronts complacency…
that self-satisfaction accompanied by unawareness of the actual dangers of sin.
Jesus confronts the deficiencies that exist when the reality of evil is so easily dismissed.
As a defense against a hostile, unstable, unpredictable world
we become secure in the wrong things: our prejudices, our error,
our misunderstandings, our shallow faith…instead of becoming secure in God’s love and truth.
 
 
God is meddlesome.  He can’t and he won’t leave our settled lives alone.
Grace just isn’t warm and binding.  It’s dark and disruptive.
 
My first intense experience of this grace was in my 3rd year of seminary studies.
My academic adviser confronted me during ‘end of year’ evaluations.
He said “you know what, you’re a marsh-mellow.  You never push back.
No matter how hard I poke you, no matter how often I insult you…you sit there and smile.”
He said “you have problems…and I am recommending to the school that you not return next year until and unless you face them…and provide evidence to me that you have done so.”
My life changed at that moment.  He was right.  I was living in my own protected universe.”
 
Anyway,  I reiterate what Jesus proclaims in the gospel:  “it is hard for those who have wealth
to enter the Kingdom of God.”
Do you and I have wealth?  1.3 billion people in the world today live on less than $1.25 per day.
3 billing people in the world today live on less than $2.50 per day.
As a priest living in the United States I have access to $65 a day….my salary divided by 365.
This is my daily standard of living….$65 per day.
If you want to determine your daily standard of living,
take your total household income, divide it by the number of people in the household,
and then divide it again by 365.
That’s how much you have to live on per day (not counting the social services available to us).
 
Our prayer:  “O Lord, Your Son, Jesus Christ, emptied himself to come into this world, to save us from evil and sin.  Help is, in turn, to embrace his life-style of renunciation.  Give us the courage to let go of our attachments to wealth so that we can proclaim your Kingdom in truth.  Amen!”