Eye of the Beholder

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Location: San Augustine, Texas, United States

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Sunday, February 05, 2006

2-5-06 * Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B


Lections:
Psalm 142: Voce mea ad Dominum–I cry to the Lord with my voice;* to the Lord I make loud supplication.
Old Testament: 2 Kings 4:(8-17)18-21 (22-31)32-37 (Elisha revives the Shunammite woman’s dead son.)
New Testament: 1 Corinthians 9:16-23 (I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.)
Gospel: Mark 1:29-39 (Jesus heals Peter’s mother-in-law and many others.)

Collect:
Set us free, O God, from the bondage of our sins and give us, we beseech thee, the liberty of that abundant life which thou hast manifested to us in thy Son our Savior Jesus Christ; who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Homiletic Remarks: Satirical Criticism and Religion

The grand furor over the publication in Denmark of satirical cartoons critical of Islam has prompted some to say that Religions ought to be exempt from satire, even if the satire is well deserved. Recently in the United States, the American Family Association (AFA), an on-line watchdog for Christian moral values, claimed to have forced NBC to modify an upcoming episode of the sitcom Will and Grace. According to the AFA, the script called for a pun on "Cruci-fixins," as the made-up name of a catering venture--If I recall correctly what the offensive use of "Cruci-fixins" was supposed to be. Regardless of the context and use of the word, the idea is silly and offensive--but then so is the vast majority of what happens on Will and Grace. Silly and marginally offensive as the show is, it is no sillier or more offensive that most of what passes muster as sitcom on television.

In today's lesson from the Epistle to the Corinthians Paul says he hopes to become all things to all people if in doing so he can bring them to the Gospel. With this in mind, I think St. Paul might have permitted himself a chuckle over "Cruci-fixins" if in doing so, he made himself appear silly in order to align himself with a potential convert to the Faith who might be convinced by silliness.

To the extent that it is a bit of sly satire aimed at the too-frequent examples of moral posturing and public piety evidenced by so-called Christians, the pun is pretty much on target. The sort of public piety exibited by the AFA seems to be uncomfortably close to that very Public Piety that Our Lord warned us to avoid.

Hymnal 1982: #635. Words: Georg Neumark (1621-1681) tr. Catherine Winkworth (1827-1878)alt. Tune: Wer nur den lieben Gott, Georg Neumark

If thou but trust in God to guide thee,
and hope in him through all thy ways,
he’ll give thee strength what e’er betide thee,
and bear thee through the evil days.
Who trusts in God’s unchanging love
builds on a rock that nought can move

Sing, pray, and keep his ways unswerving;
so do thine own part faithfully,
and trust his word, though undeserving;
thou yet shall find it true for thee;
God never yet forsook in need the soul
that trusted him indeed.

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