Clowns for Christ
Homily for the Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Preached on October 19-20, 2013 at Saint Andrew Catholic Church, Harrodsburg KY and Saint Mary Catholic Church, Perryville KY
Readings: Exodus 17:8-13; Psalm 121:1-8; 2 Timothy 3:14-4:2; Luke 18:1-8
A traveling circus had set up in the outskirts of town in time for the annual fair. Before opening night, the circus caught fire and the manager sent the clown to get help from the townsfolk. The clown hurried into town and begged the people to help put out the fire. But, the people thought that it was all an act. They applauded the clown and dismissed his warnings as antics. It was only when the town itself was burning to the ground that they realized that this was no stunt all along. They could not see past the clown’s costume and make-up and take his message seriously.
This story, first recounted by the Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard in his book Enten-Eller, illustrates how a message, however true, however urgent, is often disregarded because nobody would take the messenger seriously. But, it also speaks of the fear in the heart of anyone who bears great tidings that he would just be ignored.
The townsfolk in the story would not heed the clown’s warning. The unjust judge in the parable would not deliver a just decision (cf. Lk. 18:2-4). But, that did not stop the clown or the widow from their mission because the clown knew that he had urgent and important news, the widow knew that she had a good case (cf. Lk. 18:3, 5).
What we have is a case better than the widow’s, news more urgent than the clown’s. The Gospel is the Good News that demands to be shared “whether it is convenient or inconvenient” (2 Tm. 4:2). But, we often shy away from this mission out of fear that people out there would consider us clowns, that the powers that be would dismiss us as nagging widows. Yet, sometimes, it is our fault that we come off as bungling jesters. We do not study our Faith enough. We do not look into our rich history. We would rather share gossip than share the Gospel. Thus, when we are called to defend our Faith or explain our convictions, we are left speechless and we raise our hands in surrender rather that in prayer.
The world though will always see us as clowns; the powerful will regard us as bothersome widows. But, that should never stop us from making a case for Christ, from saving the world from hell fire, not when the fate of the world and the faith of our children depend on it.