Getting Stoned (No, it’s not what you think)

When I was in formation one of the instructors told the class that we should always keep today’s first reading (Acts 7:51—8:1a) in mind.  Steven, the first deacon, was doing just fine until he opened his mouth.  Then he was stoned to death.

People are seldom stoned to death, at least not in the United States, but the point is still well taken.  The thing is, the words Steven spoke to the people were all true.  They were “a stiff necked people.”  They had “received the law as transmitted by angels, but (they) did not observe it.”  Sometimes, the truth hurts.

So where does that leave modern-day deacons and priests.  Do we tell the truth risking the wrath of the congregation, or do we just sugar-coat everything, give the folks what they want to hear, and become everybody’s friend?

Sadly, I’m afraid many of us chose the former and I’m afraid that’s what’s wrong with the Church today.  Jesus’ message hasn’t changed but many of the messengers just aren’t up to the task, your’s truly included.

Being only human, it’s nice to stand in front of church after mass and have people say “nice homily”, but is that why I was ordained?  I don’t think so.  Is it my job to make people feel good or to make people be good?

When I stand in judgment before Jesus is He going to look me in the eye and ask me why I didn’t use my preaching faculties to help His people get into heaven?  If He does, how will I answer Him?

Since Vatican II, I’m afraid we may have gotten too warm and fuzzy in our preaching.  Want proof?  Just watch the 10:00 news or read your local paper.

Maybe it’s time to bring back “fire and brimstone” preaching.  Maybe it’s time to remember that the tablets Moses brought down from the mountain weren’t the Ten Suggestions.  Maybe it’s time to point out that Satan is alive and well and walking among us.  Maybe it’s time to go back to literally scaring the hell out of people in the pews.

Here we are, in the midst of the Easter season, just sixteen days since we celebrated the Lord’s resurrection.  The huge crowds that filled the churches on Easter Sunday have gone back to playing golf or sleeping in on Sundays.  For those of us who have the privilege of speaking from the ambo, it’s time to get serious about the souls that have been entrusted to us.

If we end up getting stoned, we’re in good company.

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