Hi everyone, here’s my homily for the Fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time- January 31, 2010. The readings can be found at https://www.usccb.org/nab/readings/013110.shtml. Thanks for reading! Oh and by the way, before you write, I know that the Gators aren’t in the NFL…it’s not easy coming up with a title for these! Thanks for reading and your reaction – Fr Jim
So next Sunday, in case you haven’t heard, there’s a little game…I know, probably most of you could care less since its New Orleans against Indianapolis, but the Super Bowl really has transcended the limited interests of people rooting for their local team. It is one of the largest viewed events every year on Television with something like 50 % of all American homes tuning into it. Because of those huge numbers, to have an advertisement on the Super Bowl is one of the most expensive things marketing people can purchase. This year, a 30 second advertisement is going to cost $2.6 million. Corporations and their ad people need to figure out, is it worth spending that kind of cash on one ad or go for something cheaper (like advertising on “The Office” for like $300,000 for a 30 second ad) Because of the expense of buying an advertisement on the Super Bowl, the pressure is on for marketing people to come up with something clever, funny, interesting that will keep people talking about it days after. To be on the top of all those lists saying what was the best commercial.
Well this week, there has been an incredible amount of interest about a Super Bowl ad that hasn’t even aired yet. It was reported Monday that Florida quarterback Tim Tebow and his mother Pam will be featured in a pro-life commercial that will be aired during next week s Super Bowl.
That announcement caused many in the sports world, and beyond, to lose it. In his column on Wednesday, sports writer Jay Marriotti wasn’t just angry but sounded outraged. “There is a time and a place for serious crusades about life issues,” he wrote. “A commercial during the NFL’s championship game, our national holiday of fun and frolic and heavy drinking and gambling, is not one of them.”
That’s right Jay, we can’t mess with that inspiring agenda for our national holiday.
He then went on to give Tebow some unsolicited advise. “Just as you don’t have a Boy Scout convention in a casino, you do not take sides on a volatile issue pro-life during the Super Bowl. Furthermore, you don’t do it when you’re Tim Tebow and you’re in the process of convincing NFL franchises why to draft you.” Marriotti claimed that Tebow was raising eye-brows all over the NFL, where league and team execs must be conscious of public relations within their communities. He thinks Tebow is more interested in crusading than playing the game and risks blowing the chance of an NFL career. So this sports writer feels Tebow “just needs to be smarter and more strategic about picking his spots so early in his adult life, before he even has signed an NFL contract.”
Well, Tim Tebow begs to differ. “I know some people won’t agree with it,” he said, “but I think they can at least respect that I stand up for what I believe and that I’m never shy about it. I don’t feel very preachy about it, but I do stand up for what I believe. Unfortunately in today’s society, not many athletes seem to do that. I always stand for something.”
The reason for that may be that the issue hits a little closer to home for him. When his mother was expecting Tim back in 1987, her doctors advised her to terminate the pregnancy because of a life-threatening illness. She choose otherwise, which is why he even has a chance in the NFL. It seems Tim Tebow is willing to risk rejection by the NFL for being honest and publicly vocal about his personal convictions.
Tim Tebow could probably go onto ESPN as a special guest commenting on the Super Bowl or football in general like “Brett Favre is the greatest player in the NFL” – well Brett Favre still doesn’t have a ring… Or “The Jets should have been in the Super Bowl” – well they’re not… and people might have disagreed with him or laughed or whatever… that would have been okay. But as soon as he ventured into something bigger, greater than what they’re used to, he’s been ridiculed, and even had his career in a sense “threatened.” After all that is all Tim Tebow is – a Football player, so that’s really all he should talk about, right?
There’s a similar thing happening to Jesus in today’s Gospel. Things had started out well enough. Today’s passage picks up where last weeks ended – Jesus had read this beautiful prophecy from Isaiah who foretold that the Messiah that God would send would bring Glad Tidings – the restoration of sight to the blind, liberty and release to those captured and imprisoned… The words of promise of a day of radical freedom that comes from knowing that you are a beloved child of God was being proclaimed to Jesus’ home town crowd. And Jesus says “I’m the one to bring this to you.”
That’s when things start to go wrong. That’s when the crowd turns on him. Jesus? Really? The carpenter? Joseph’s son? Who’s he kidding? The God who parted the red sea and fed us that miraculous food of Manna when we most needed it, that same God is going to free us from the oppression we’re experiencing through Him???? You almost get the sense that they were laughing or ridiculing him saying “ah carpernter – perhaps you haven’t seen the massive roman guards and authorities walking around – you and your fishermen friends – that’s cute and all… but come on.”
Their vision of what the Messiah was going to do was as small, narrow and limited as their vision of Who the Messiah could be. So Jesus points out to them with those references (that many of us probably don’t understand) – about Elijah, this widow, lepers… He was calling them out and saying to his neighbors, his friends (or perhaps, former friends) – you’re making the same mistake our ancestors did. Taking for granted that God is God – he can do anything, anyway he wishes to accomplish it. Elijah, the widows, the lepers were all examples of how God did miraculous things to “foreigners” (those not with the Jews) and because they were so humble, so grateful to what God was doing – they were open to His action and His presence and God did miraculous things because of that humility.
The hometown didn’t like hearing that. They in fact threatened Jesus looking to do bodily harm to him, simply because they fixated so much on their narrow view of who they thought Jesus was – just Joseph’s son the carpenter – they couldn’t imagine that God’s truth could be spoken through him. Yes they take him to the edge of a cliff wanting to, as the Gospel puts it “hurl him down headlong.”
We who followed Jesus off the edge of that cliff need to realize that we continue to follow him – to the passion, to the cross, to the grave. The world will continue to reject the truth and those who proclaim it and attempt to live it. As we embrace Him, and receive Him and allow Jesus to embrace and receive us Jesus is leading us, calling us to greater things and that we’re trying to continue to respond to Him. If we’re looking for the admiration or the validation of the world around us, our colleagues and friends – then we’re going to be sadly disappointed. Just as Tim Tebow has discovered (if he didn’t know it already) most people want everyone on Super Bowl Sunday to sit back, watch the game, have a beer – compare which beer commercial is better than the other one than to do the hard work of entertaining a serious moral issue that affects the very moral fabric of our nation.
It’s really not a hard choice, though, when you think about it – do you want to be a part of the crowd looking to toss Jesus over a cliff, or do you want to be the one who follows him not just to the cross – but to the glorious, resurrected life he promises? Like Tebow, we should always stand for something.