Tuesday, May 14, 2013

MONEY OVER EVERYTHING!


The devil exists and to deny this fact is to deny reality. One of our parishioners and his friend who is also his brother-in-law were murdered last weekend in the brother-in-law's parent's home. Our parishioner's wife, also our member, lost her husband and her brother to a senseless, cold-blooded murder. Four teenagers who belong to a local gang name "Money Over Everything, MOE" have been arrested and charged with the murders.

Macon has a huge problem with teenage gangs and its related violence and numerous people have been gunned down in the last few years. Violence born of poverty and not just "material poverty" but moral poverty, religious poverty and the poverty of wholesome non violent entertainment has consumed and destroyed these souls who search for meaning and purpose in all the wrong places with no higher source their their own corrupt sense of self to guide them.

The devil is real and his opening into the lives of young people is born of poverty, the poverty of no authentic religion, no authentic morality, no authentic sense of self and of others. Even the Golden Rule is corrupt in their minds "Do unto others has you would have them do unto you."

The absence of God in their lives, their family, their schools and public discourse contributes to the malformation. The violence the media portrays as glamorous and fun to watch, in movies, television and video games attracts them and makes them compulsive in their own violence. God help them and God help us.

My homily for today's Funeral for Russell Jacobs:

Introduction: I know that the evil that has befallen Russ and his friend James and their families has been a terrible shock and tragedy especially for them and for all of you. We are left stunned and saddened and gripped with fear when we face evil accomplished at the hands of others. We are left shocked that in the blink of an eye, life is taken, life is ended. It leaves us insecure and even frightened. We even question God and why God allowed this horrible thing to happen and what darkens the hearts of men to do such a things. It will take time for you to sort through all of these emotions. We ask you, however, to stay close to God and to seek your answers in faith, hope and love. I pray that God’s grace will bring healing and strength to you during this time of grief, testing, and pain.

Topic Statement: The darkness of the death of Russ forces us to seek our answers about life and death within the context of our faith in God love for us and in Jesus Christ, the Light no darkness can extinguish.

1. Despite what has happened we must trust that God loves Russ and that God loves us and wants us to live with Him forever.

A. Because of the nature of Russ’s death and his death itself, his world and yours has been shattered by the unexpected. We know in theory how perilous this life can be and that evil lurks in unexpected ways. What can be considered routine one moment, become life threatening and death dealing the next moment. Because the world in which we live is so dangerous and unstable, it is extremely important to have faith that God will unite us to the life saving activity of His Son, Jesus Christ. This world is dangerous and we need God to save us and it is His will that we be saved.

B. The whole reason God sent His Son into this broken, sinful and tragic world of ours is to redeem us and enable us to live with God in eternity. Jesus was sent into the world, not to condemn the world but to save, for God so loved the world. John’s Gospel makes this truth abundantly clear when Jesus consoles Martha over the death of her brother Lazarus. Jesus confirms her faith that her son will rise on the last day. But Jesus makes it clear that her son will be raised to life because of Him. “I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me even if he dies, will life, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Jesus asks Martha if she believes this. And she makes her declaration of faith that she does. But Jesus is also asking us this afternoon if we believe this—let us hope and pray that our faith enable us to join Martha in her declaration of faith in Jesus Christ.

2. Because of God’s saving activity, our prayer and hope today is that in Jesus Christ, our advocate or lawyer before our heavenly Father, life has changed for Russ, not ended.

A. Erin and Russ’s parents have indicated to me that he loved his family. He was a good father loving his children and full of life and always playful and ready to have a good time with them. He was a good friend too; once you gained his friendship you had met a friend for life. He was extremely loyal and would go out of his way to do anything for them. You could trust Russ and know that he wouldn’t gossip about you and would hold confidences. There are many things that we can say about Russ and how God gave him many gifts of love and many talents, such as being a good writer, the teller of stories.

B. We want to celebrate Russ’s life today, but more importantly, at this Funeral service, we want to celebrate God who created Russ, and the love that God poured into Russ’s heart despite the hardships that Russ endured and the many struggles and temptations in his life and the times that God picked up him and gave him new beginnings over and over again. But most of all we give praise to God who accepted Russ as His very own child and led Russ to join the Catholic Church in 2012 and to find his religious identity as a person loved by God. The most important thing I can say today is that Jesus Christ accepted Russ, Jesus Christ forgave Russ from the Cross and continued to forgive Russ each time Russ sought that forgiveness. The most important thing I can say today is that Jesus Christ who was killed by evil people who were trying to stamp out goodness, even the goodness of God, were not and are not successful no matter how dark their deeds and no matter how demonic. The devil is real, we know that first hand, but so too is Jesus Christ and we know and believe that too. The devil and his minions are no match for the power of God and that power is love, a love so powerful that it conquers hate and evil, sin and death. This is proven in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ and His love poured out upon us in the Holy Spirit.

Conclusion: In this funeral Service we remember the death and resurrection of Jesus, the one sacrificial event that saves us from tragedy of evil, sin and death. We commend Russ to the power of God’s love for him we pray that he be numbered among the communion of saints where life is changed, not ended. And we commend his loved ones to God’s grace.

Jesus Christ is the light of the world, a light no darkness can extinguish.

3 comments:

Pater Ignotus said...

A book review from The Economist:

How the West Really Lost God: A New Theory of Secularisation. By Mary Eberstadt. Templeton Press; 257 pages.

"THE family that prays together, stays together. That folksy motto, which was first used in a Catholic campaign to encourage households to say the rosary, became popular in America after the second world war when the nation underwent a temporary upturn in both fecundity and piety.

The two phenomena were intimately connected, thinks Mary Eberstadt of the Ethics and Public Policy Centre, a think-tank based in Washington, DC. Her short, elegantly written book repeatedly shows that strong families help to keep religious practice alive, and that too many people see a causal connection running exclusively in the opposite direction.

In other words, it is widely assumed that people form large families because they hold traditional beliefs, and that when they abandon those beliefs, they stop creating those families. For Ms Eberstadt, the link between robust families and resilient faith is reminiscent of bonds forming a double helix: dynamic, self-reinforcing and flowing endlessly in both directions. And if there is one trend for her which has primacy, it seems to be the influence of the family on everything else. Where it is strong, people continue to pray, publicly and privately; where ties of kin disintegrate, so does religion."

Trying to analyze the circumstances that led four young men to commit such a terrible, almost sociopathic, thing is a daunting task. I suspect that the disintegration of American families is, as Ms Eberstadt seems to be arguing in her book (I've read only this review) is a major causal factor.

With the disintegration of marriages came the loss of a family structure in which faith and its values could be transmitted to new generations. Now, what we have to ask is why, from roughly 1968 to 1978 - one decade - did the divorce rate double? From 1950 to 1968 the rate was appx 25%, but in just the next ten years it shot up to 50%.

Some trends indicate the education is a key factor. Divorce rates among those women with no high school education are more than double those for women with a 4 year degree.

We struggle on - May God grant Russ' family peace.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I think it is a conflagration of things since the 1960's. It is first of all a part of the me generation and fierce individualism spawned in the 1960's. The common good was tossed out in personal lives and in civil law. The proliferation of drugs and the culture of sex (birth control and abortion) contributed greatly to the current malaise. The drug, alcohol, sex and violence culture contributed to the breakdown of family life as did the welfare state. A part of this mix is practical atheism both for the individual and the state and outright hostility to things religious in secular institutions.
In other words, NASA we have a problem and it isn't going to be fixed in our life time and will only get worse.

Pater Ignotus said...

The question remains - what underpins the shift to the "me generation" and the extreme individualism that seems to have been planted in the 50's, emerged in the 60's, and blossomed in the 70's. What underlies the phenomenon of tossing out the idea of the Common Good?

I wonder if "The drug, alcohol, sex and violence culture" led to or emerged from the breakdown of family life.