Yesterday we celebrated the feast of St. Augustine. This day came on the heels of the much-buzzed-about "performance" Miley Cyrus and cohorts put on at the MTV Video Music Awards on Sunday. What does one have to do the other? Word On Fire contributor Fr. Michael Cummins shared his homily from yesterday and clued us in.
The word “hypocrite” has its origins in a Greek word meaning “actor”. If you have ever seen an ancient Greek play you will remember that all the actors were masks, you never seen an actor’s real face. A hypocrite is someone who puts on a false appearance, someone who wears a mask. Often, we use the term “hypocrite” in relation to people who put on a false appearance in terms of seeming to be religious or in terms of seeming to exemplify a certain virtue. When hypocrisy is revealed we know how harmful it can be. Jesus also knew this. This is why in today’s gospel (Mt. 23:27-32) he chastised the hypocrisy of the scribes and the Pharisees. But hypocrisy can come in a wide variety and in many forms.
Some of you may have seen Miley Cyrus’ act at the MTV Video Music Awards recently. I did not see the show. Since I have moved to Chattanooga I have decided not to have a TV and even when I did have a TV I did not watch MTV. (I remember when MTV first came out and when they actually played music videos. Now, I don’t know what MTV is really about.) Anyway, so many of my friends were talking about it the next day on Facebook that I pulled it up on YouTube and watched it. Now, I do not necessarily have anything against Miley Cyrus. She seems to be quite talented which, to me, makes it all the more sad that she felt she had to perform in such a way but as I watched her performance I was just struck by the hypocrisy of it all. For whatever reason (maybe to move beyond her Hannah Montana image or to prove she is an adult) Miley chose to deny her dignity and on a national stage belittle herself and her worth.
This past Sunday, Father Barron’s homily
on the biblical passage about the rich man and Lazarus demonstrated the way in which the rich man’s torment began because he locked himself in the narrow confines of his ego, going against his call to give. Continuing the reflection on this subject, a passage from Father Barron’s book, entitled Word on Fire: Proclaiming the Power of Christ, tells of St. Augustine in a similarly ironic predicament, his ego standing in the way of not only a proper charity toward his brother, but also, of a deeply honest and provocative assessment of self.
Read more on the Word on Fire Blog.