• Isaiah 58:7-10 • 1 Corinthians 2:1-5 • Matthew 5:13-16 5 • Ordinary A ‘14 •
Scripture Readings: Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Print PDF: Weekly Homily 02.09.2014
When I first read about those monkeys, it was reported as the result of a scientific observation on some islands in the Pacific Ocean. It seems the monkeys on those islands harvested fruit as it fell to the ground and simply ate the fruit, sand and all. Then unexpectedly one monkey took the fruit into the water and washed the sand off before consuming it. Gradually other monkeys imitated that behavior and then suddenly, when the 100th monkey took the fruit into the water and washed the sand off before consuming it, all of the monkeys, including those on neighboring islands began to do the same. I saw no reason to suspect that was less than a reliable report. In any case I find it an inspirational story.
A January issue of the New Yorker magazine had an article about modern China and the 6th century B.C. sage named Confucius. China’s Cultural Revolution in the 1960’s dismantled ancient belief systems, customs, culture, habits and ideas. Zealots denounced Confucius. The New Yorker article titled “Confucius Comes Home” reflects on the rehabilitation of Confucianism. The author notes “there is a hole in Chinese life that people call ‘the spiritual void’.”
I think there is similar spiritual void in the life of our nation today. Examples are abundant.
The United States Congress established the “War Department” in 1789. In 1949 that became the “Department of Defense.” That name change is deceptive! Recall Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Currently the Pentagon is the largest employer in the world with a budget that is more than one-half of our nation’s tax dollars. The poor and powerless among us are neglected.
For more than a decade we have used that workforce and budget to wage senseless and failed wars in two countries. Now we use remotely controlled drones to rain death from the sky. Iran cannot build nuclear weapons. We can and do stockpile them.
Now the “Department of Homeland Security” has been tasked with defending our shores. While writing this homily the major news networks report shootings in another school, in another theater and in a grocery store. The “wild west” is returning and Congress refuses to act.
We have not experienced a cultural revolution like that in China but we have and are undergoing a revolution. Darkness embraces us in bullying, pornography, drugs, alcohol, cynicism, road rage. It seems apparent. “There is a hole in American life, a spiritual void.” We have work to do.
In the Sermon on the Mount Matthew shares his memory of the teaching of Jesus. Today he tells us, “you are the light of the world.” “Your light must shine before others!” A TV commercial illustrates that so well. The light of a single candle can be seen 10 miles away. That is the equivalent of 146 football fields away. Light is life! With light we can grope and stumble our way out of darkness. We hear those words and sincerely want to spread the light of Christ. We do so when we are polite and courteous in word and gesture, or when we smile and welcome strangers. We do so when we stock food pantries and build homeless shelters.
Even so we have work to do. Silence is an insidious way of allowing good people to do bad things. We are people who can dispel the darkness by shining the light of love into our world. I recall the report of the 100th monkey hoping to inspire you. None of us know. Any one of us may be “The 100th Monkey!” Create circles of love and compassion. Invite people to discuss political and economic issues. Be courteous! Be polite! Listen to voices that disagree with you! Be firm in speaking your own convictions!
Don’t allow fear or any other emotion trick you into “putting your light under a bushel basket.” “Your light must shine before others, that they may see.” You may be the 100th monkey!