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Bacolod City, Philippines Tuesday, January 16, 2018
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Rock and Refuge
with Fr. Roy Cimagala

Rock & Refuge

Smoke and mirrors

It's the act of “obscuring or embellishing the truth of a situation with misleading or irrelevant information.” This is now, sad to say, a common phenomenon, especially in the press and in the social media, with all kinds of bloggers and trolls dominating the cyberspace.

That is why we have a proliferation or, better said, an infestation of the notorious “fake news.” There is now so much contentiousness in the spreading of news items and in the exchanges of opinions that we would not know anymore which one is true, fair and with some basis.

News-reporting nowadays is not anymore objective news-reporting as it is now openly opinion-making, since biased, selective slants and spins are clearly, if subtly, used in the process.

The worst area that is affected by smoke and mirrors happen to be, to my mind, in the homilies at Mass, where instead of the word of God being proclaimed, some man-made theories and opinions are retailed.

These past days, I have heard homilies that do not sound anymore like homilies. A lot of trivias, stories, anecdotes and jokes dominated the homilies, and instead of reinforcing the word of God, they detract from it. The people remember, as their take-home message, the trivias and the jokes and not anymore the word of God.

This is unfortunate because this is clearly a misuse of that liturgical part of the Mass. And that's why from time to time,the homilies stray into areas that instead of fostering love,understanding and unity, they sow division and confusion. This happens when the homilies assume a partisan political character.

Not only that. Nowadays, the distinction between a homily and eulogy is getting blurred. Instead of talking about Christ, the homily dwells more on the deceased. Christ is relegated to the background, if ever he is considered at all.

The same during wedding Masses. Instead of talking about the sanctity of marriage as taught by Christ, the focus is on the couple—how they met, how they fell in love, etc. Nothing wrong to talk about these things, but it should not be in the homily.

The homily, of course, has to be relevant to certain current issues. But it should be made clear that it is the teaching of Christ that is expounded, not just some social, political or economic theories and observations. Even in Masses of fiestas and memorials of saints, it should be Christ who should be clearly proclaimed. The saints play only a supporting role.

There may not be bad intention involved here. In fact, a lot of good intention can be presumed. But just the same, with good intention, we can still do things wrongly.

This, of course, is a big challenge to the homilists, since it would require them to know the connection between God's wordwith the issues at hand. Yes, a certain sound theology is needed here, one that effectively applies God's word to these issues in a way that these issues get inspired by God's word.

For this, the homilists need not be intelligent and observant fellows, but true men of God, whose hearts are both with God and with men, are both in heaven and on earth. They need to present the living Christ to the people during the homily.

They are not there to strut their stuff, to show off theirtalents. They have to be no less than “alter Christus,” head of the Church, not some performers or actors or scholars only.*

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