Homily For Straying Lambs

When, on a Sunday morning, our children balked at going to church one time too many, the time had come for decisive action. They would not become junk culture addicts if we could help it. To counter the negative influence of school and media, it was imperative to appeal to the children’s intelligence before their brains got sopped any further with advice from alleged “experts” who treat all first things about life as trash.

Each Sunday, during Bible study in the basement of the church we attended, our three children were given a serious study lesson I’d prepared on morality, amplified with hints and commentary. In one of the lessons, for example, they were asked to explain why, if Einstein revered God, they should do less? The general message of the course was: Wake up! Get your dope on life from God, the best authority on the subject since He made you, not from a mainstream junkyard.

The lessons began with the Ten Commandments. For example, my lesson about the sixth one about honoring one’s parents (something that was slipping from their minds) was that good parents earn the respect and honor of their children. This is not, however, a reason for children to “grade the performance” of their parents. They are teachers first; “buddies” second. Always keep in mind that your elders are not exactly your chums. This may not seem fair, but it will become clear when you assume the responsibility and challenge of adulthood and parenthood for yourselves.

The course was meant to open children’s minds to the deeper and wider world of transgenerational wisdom. It included science’s role as a servant of humanity, not its director. Of special significance was the fact that the Golden Rule (about treating others as you would have others treat you) has been essential to every major culture of the world, supplemented with the world’s Number One Best Seller.

Image: Family reading the Bible.  Public domain.

People in a coma, I explained, breathe, their blood circulates, and their body takes in water and nutrients and expels wastes. In this suspended state of life, hopefully on the way to recovery, they merely lie there like vegetables. Most people can get up, feed themselves, go to the bathroom, and go out to earn money to keep eating and cycling through their daily routine. In a way, that is not very different from being a “mechanized vegetable” (coma) or an “animated vegetable” that your Italian grandmother would call (translated) “a chunk of meat with eyes.”

For many, the eating-expelling-sleeping-working cycle is enhanced with “kicks,” including drugs that often kick some of them out of their minds and bodies. Oh, what fun you can have on the way to an early grave! Adding “kicks” to life with no additional effort to live life well makes one . . . shall we call it a fancy vegetable? Sadly, that describes a lot of people, including some you know, I’m sure.

People obsessed with pleasure as the main object of life blind themselves to a greater aim, which is to become your best self. This you do by tuning into the center of your being—our Creator, God. Life is not simply a fact but a challenge to rise to one’s best abilities. When you exploded into being—from the “union of egg and sperm,” as biology indicates—it was not simply to add a number to the total of human population but to count for something worth being.

Your mother and I believe that being “a chunk of meat with eyes” is not what life’s about, that even a “fancy vegetable” is after all only a vegetable, that to be a real, fully alive person is to move with meaning and purpose in life. To be alive in this deepest sense is to be at ease with God and his Creation, with no “dull parts and empty spaces” that need to be filled with cheap thrills, partying, and endless goodies that excite without building the character needed to find fulfillment as well as contentment. When you keep the Creator’s world in your head, in your bones, in your blood, you can be true to yourself, confident that you are on the right track to a life worth living. You won’t need to play the tacky and dangerous game of “being cool to make it” because you will be unstuck from a world where money counts more than value.

And you won’t have to follow the crowd. You may instead choose to show others a few things really worth seeing and doing, as you follow instead of “kicks.”

Here's just a sampling of statements from gifted individuals who presented evidence of the relevance of the Bible to humanity, regardless of the times:

My religion consists of a humble admiration of the illimitable superior spirit who reveals himself in the slight details we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble mind.

– Albert Einstein

Open my eyes, that I may see

Glimpses of truth thou has for me;

Place in my hands the wonderful key

That shall unclasp and set me free.

Silently now I wait for thee,

Ready, my God, thy will to see;

Open my eyes, illumine me, Spirit divine!

– Clara H. Scott

. . . trailing clouds of glory do we come from God, who is our home.

– William Wordsworth

God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.

– John, the Disciple

O God, our help in ages past,

Our hope for years to come,

Our shelter from the stormy blast,

And our eternal home.

– Isaac Watts

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

– Romans 8:28

There was a good deal more to these weekly Sunday School sessions. The “heavy hand” in the course was something I apologized for. I had, after all, to deal with a serious situation in a serious way.

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