Showing posts from December, 2015

How to make a Holy Family

Family. Authority. Obedience. How very Victorian. The theme of the gospel for the Feast of the Holy Family might make modern liberals blanche over their skinny de-caf soya lattes, yet it may be just the remedy for the indiscipline of modern times. 
Compare and contrast: the Individual. Choice. Self-discovery. Now we're back into happy modern territory. Surely happier, at any rate, than the 1950s, that mythical decade wherein Guardianistas fondly sneer that Mail readers all wish to dwell, in saecula saeculorum. After all "family," we are repeatedly told, is the primary locus of emotional and sexual abuse; "authority" is never to be trusted, since everyone is out on the make; and "obedience" is sheep-like and undignified, because nobody could possibly know better than I. So it is the individual trumps the wicked family, personal choice overrides all authority, and nobody deserves the obedience which would impede my personal voyage of self-discovery. 

Advent and Apocalyptic Rivalry

An obscure group camped out in the Middle East believes the end of the world is nigh. Their bearded rabble-rouser of a prophet is proclaiming ancient, apocalyptic scriptures, and he says that the promised Messiah who will judge the living and the dead is coming soon, any minute now. They've been waiting a long time, so long that they start to wonder if their prophet is that Messiah, but he says not. The world is showing no signs of ending, and so many zealots want to take matters into their own hands, accelerate the end of days, do God's work by expelling the pagan occupation. At every setback, their leader tells them to be patient, because the judgment will most certainly come to pass. It is God's will. He will send a Spirit of fire to cleanse and purify. And for you, he says, for you who live righteously and believe, this is Good News: for He will judge justly.

I'm talking about John, of course. But which one: the Baptist, or the Jihadi?

Many of the Baptist's co…

Good news, you brood of vipers!

Advent 3, and this week, as last, the star of the Gospel passage is John the Baptist.
The contrast between the first line and the last are almost comical. Hairy old John begins by shouting at those queuing up for baptism "you brood of vipers!" and goes on to tell them that their Abrahamic ancestry counts for nothing, because God has his axe at the root of the tree just waiting to cut them off and lob them into the fire. "So," the Gospel concludes, "he proclaimed the good news to the people."
"What an uplifting sermon, Father," said the congregation as they shook hands after the service and left the bank of the Jordan.
I cannot imagine many bishops nowadays counselling their clergy to adopt John's homiletic style, though I'd love to see the look on the faces of people bringing their children to a baptism if I tried it.
There's nothing remotely risible about John's message, however, and it's one which hits us all with its seve…