Last winter I had the privilege of speaking at St. Theodore’s to drum up more interest for Crossroads. I thoroughly enjoy speaking however this was my first experience at the pulpit. It was quite nerve racking but I liked finally being taller than everyone else!
While praying about what to say my attention was drawn to the Mass readings. For those who missed out please click here and get up to speed. The readings were about Leprosy. I find their content to be hugely significant for those of us in our 20′s and 30′s. The message was so well received we decided to blog about it.
Leprosy is a disease that is caused by bacteria whose name I can neither spell nor pronounce. It causes lesions or soars on the skin, nerve damage, and in some cases disfigurement. In the time of Christ this disease was considered to be highly contagious. Therefore, Mosaic Law demanded the infected to live outside the city and yell out “unclean” when others passed by. We now know that leprosy in not easily contracted and it can be cured with a pill (big ones, but still). In other words, this disease is rarely a danger to us in the modern world. Needless to say, I think it can be hard for today’s society to relate.
I propose that there is a modern Leprosy that has swept across our generation. It neither causes sores nor lesions and it cannot be cured with an antibiotic. This disease does not really affect the body at all. However, given time it can corrupt the mind, the heart, and the soul. I go even further to say it has undermined the entire framework of our society. If we allow it to continue I believe it will dictate our future. The disease is complacency.
Complacency is defined by dictionary.com as “a feeling of quiet pleasure or security, often while unaware of some potential danger, defect, or the like; self-satisfaction or smug satisfaction with an existing situation, condition, etc.” Sound familiar? Have you wondered lately how our country has gotten to the point where a problem such as the HHS mandate is even an issue? Are you surprised when I tell you that according to statistics more people get divorced than stay married? How about the statistics the media throws around claiming 98% of women use birth control? What about the crazy thinking behind the Wall Street protestors? These alarming stats and situations are symptoms of a terrible disease that has swept across our generation: Complacency.
I have the privilege of working very closely with many people. These people sometimes tell me extraordinary things about their lives. This has been a beautiful blessing in my life; I love to listen and offer what advice I can. There is one phrase I hear people use (I too am guilty of using it) far too often. I think it proves my point just in case you have any doubts. The phrase is, “it’s whatever.” Yup, it’s true, we live in the “it’s whatever” generation. When someone hurts our feelings instead of doing as Christ taught us in Matt 18:15 and telling the man the truth we say, “It’s whatever.” When we do not get the job or the recognition, “It’s whatever.” I have even heard women AND men use this phrase when they have been sexually assaulted! WHAT?!!! How did we get here? What happened to righteous indignation? In the words of a good friend, “when trying to be Christ-like please remember that turning over tables is a viable option.”
I do not know enough about history to offer a real explanation for how we got here. Who cares how we got here, the fact is we are here!! I can however offer a solution. An “antibiotic” if you will for our times. The first thing all of us need to be doing, and its deceptively simple, is pray. Think of it like this, if the doctor gives you some horse pill antibiotic, naturally you would use something (like water) to wash it down. Prayer is the water that we need to help us swallow our pride and resist complacency. However in and of itself it is not enough. James 1:22 says, “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” People we need to act. Prayer will move you to action. STOP WAITING FOR OTHERS TO DO! How often do we complain about some law? How many of us have actually contacted the government? How many of us think abortion is wrong? How few of us step up to make changes? (Remember 98% of women are reported to be contracepting, which can be a form of abortion). How many of us go to Mass on Sundays but refuse to talk about Christ at work? The examples go on and on.
I cannot tell you exactly where you are being called to “step it up.” Maybe for some it’s as simple as being present to those around you. Dads start actually listening to your wives and children. Moms perhaps you need to complain less about your husbands and children. Maybe it is even as simple as excusing yourself from a conversation that is degrading to the opposite sex (and I am not just talking about men, women you know WE do it, too). Dare I suggest that we actually take Christ into our homes and places of work? I know it is uncomfortable. Doing what is right is never easy.
No, we are not perfect but neither was Peter, he denied Christ. Paul killed Christ’s believers. Mary Magdalene “got around”. St. Thomas doubted. Martha was too busy… the list goes on. If these people can do it, SO CAN WE! Perhaps once we begin fighting for the dignity and integrity of those around us there would not be a need for the bigger fights. Imagine a world where people actually respected one another. Things would look different. Dare to get uncomfortable, it’s a good thing. Christ said “Follow me.” Where did you think you were going? Candy Land? We are going to the Cross. If we cannot take the discomfort of speaking up about our Faith and our beliefs how are we going to handle the Cross?
One thing is for sure, if we continue to turn our backs on the craziness happening around us, that is, if we continue acting as if everything is fine then we like the lepers will decay. It will be a slow nasty death with an eternal effect. I am speaking about damnation. We will be held accountable for the things we failed to do (it’s in the Confetior we say at the beginning of Mass).
Let’s take just a moment to be specific. I know some of you may not understand how treating others with respect can heal the infection of complacency. Let us use the example of marriage. Earlier I used the example of the growing divorce rate to make the point that we are overrun by complacency in our world. Let’s analyze that: I argue that the divorce rate is so high because men and women do not know how to deal with each other. If men and women learned how to properly treat one another, if they learned how to respect one another’s differences and uphold one another’s dignity and integrity, there would be less divorce. But herein lies the problem: It is really hard. It requires vulnerability, allowing the other to see us at our worst. Ladies, I am not talking about ugliness, I am talking about brokenness. It requires communication. Gentlemen, I know you hate that word. That word is synonymous, in my opinion, with “work.” It requires patience, sensitivity to the others needs, a boat load of trust, and a commitment to weather the storms. Yet we do not see most couples doing this. Our culture has been so saturated in “doing what is right for you” that we have produced an entire generation that cannot see the other. Let’s face it, fathers have stopped leading, mothers do not stop moving, and children expect everything to be done for them. We are all too stressed out and strung out to weather the storms. This is where prayer comes in. If fathers learned to allow God to teach them the art of leading, if mothers took time to stop and be still (Remember Martha, Mary has chosen the better part. Luke 10:38-42), and if children were instructed to think of others first, the family would look different. These actions are not complacent, they are active. Next, we need to be willing to make waves. Dad’s, you were created to be leaders and fighters, be willing to tell your children “no,” do not make your wife be the bad guy, she does enough. Mom’s, when your husband is failing to lead do not step on his toes, encourage him to lead, expect it from him. My point being, if complacency stopped in the home first it would filter down through society. The divorce rate would definitely go down. We would be people willing to fight for something instead of people waiting to be fought for.
This may all sound so simple but the best things usually are. One last thing: The antonym of the word complacency is humility. If we are going to get up and start doing as we should, we must do so with humility. Rising to action does not mean that we “get all up” in people’s faces. It means we start living our lives as we should and others will follow. ”Do Not Be Afraid!” Depending on the translation, this phrase is used 365 times in the bible. God knew we were going to need to hear it every day. So what are you waiting for? Start being the person you were created to be. In case you think you do not have what it takes… watch this video and listen to the words, take them to prayer.
Maybe this is not the reality of your physical life but this IS the reality of our spiritual lives.
I do not want to hand my future children a world that reeks with the smell of leprosy. I want them to be able to enjoy all the world has to offer without all of its insanity. We need to get on our knees and ask the Lord, “if you will you can make me clean?” Rise with me when the Lord reaches out and says, “I do will, GO and be made clean.”