A Stranger to the Popular

Homily for the Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Preached on February 11-12, 2012 at St. Andrew Catholic Church, Harrodsburg KY and St. Mary Catholic Church, Perryville KY
Readings: Leviticus 13:1-2, 44-46; Psalm 32:1-2, 5, 11; 1 Corinthians 10:31-11:1; Mark 1:40-45

If you wish to do what Jesus did, do not expect to get in with the “in” crowd. Chances are you will find yourself left out in the cold.

The “in” crowd, you see, only plays by its rules. Their people are into what looks nice, what feels good, what seems true. But, as a Christian, you play by God’s rules, by His 10 Commandments. You are into what is beautiful, what is good, and what is true, and none of it is found in the fleeting and artificial world of the “in” crowd.

If you wish to do what Jesus did, you will have to start noticing those whom the “in” crowd ignores. They are the ones who have been told that they are not good enough, that they don’t matter, that they don’t belong. They are the ones who don’t meet the “in” crowd’s standard of worth and weight, color and creed, health and honor. They are today’s lepers, the ones who are deemed unclean, unfit, and unacceptable. But, they are the very ones whom Jesus willed to touch and to heal (cf. Mk. 1:41), those whom He took out of the cold and brought back into the hearth of God’s house.

Because Jesus did this, it became “impossible for [Him] to enter a town openly” (Mk. 1:45). Because He reached out to outsiders, He Himself became an outsider (cf. Mk. 1:45).

If you wish to do what Jesus did, you too will find yourself being an outsider like Him. You will be put down for standing up for what you believe. You will be discouraged by those who have too much for wasting what little you have to those who have less. You will get pushed out for taking in those whom the “in” crowd rejects.

If you wish to do what Jesus did, you can no longer operate according to the dictates of that “in” crowd. You will have to conduct yourself according to the demands of the Gospel. As he once told the Corinthians (1 Cor. 10:31), so St. Paul reminds you today: “Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God.” What you do for yourself and what you do for others should reflect the glory of God. How you spend your money and how you vote should reflect the glory of God. How you live and how you die should reflect the glory of God. What you do out in the open and even what you do in the privacy of your bedroom should reflect the glory of God. You see, for a Christian, there is no such thing as a vacation from God; there is no day-off from doing His will. The light of Christ that you have received is not something that you are supposed to turn off like a switch. So, when the Apostle says to “do everything for the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31), he meant everything and not just some things. He meant that in everything you say, in everything you think, and in everything you do, you better put God first.

This is what makes you an outsider in the eyes of the “in” crowd. It is what sets you apart from the children of this age. It is what makes you a stranger to what is popular, what keeps you estranged from the rest of the populace. You are part of the Body of Christ (cf. 1 Cor. 12:27) and those who belong to His family prefer neither politics nor profit, neither a bailout nor a sellout, nothing else over His love (cf. Rule of St. Benedict 4:21; 72:11).

~ by Fr. Noel F. Zamora on Sunday, February 12, 2012.

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