Numbing Song

I usually listen to XM radio these days; I can switch the channels and hear the genre of music that fits me that day.  Today I was listening to a contemporary country music channel and a new song co-written by a new song writer named Kacey Musgraves was played – I was saddened by the tenor and the lyrics of the music.  After the song the dj ranted about this new great talent and that she was a upcoming force in the genre.  That may be true and I haven’t heard anything else by her – I hope it is good.  But this song, Merry Go ‘round was a numbing, and deflated description of life in ‘anytown USA’.  It was defeatist and droned on about the numbness of life.  Throughout the song, as the title might suggest, she played with the words Merry & Mary.  It was thought provoking; could society view life as dreary and gray as this song?  And, of course, the answer is yes – if they don’t allow God in His greatness to penetrate their heart.  “If you ain’t got two kids by 21, you’re probably gonna die alone; at least that’s what tradition told you.” – wow.  Kids are a gift, not a necessary burden. God has a plan for you whether you marry or not, and if you follow it there will peace and joy.  And that was just the first verse! To me the whole song is about a life with God being absent – and that is sad.  Below you will find the lyrics – the one Mary/Merry that is missing is our Blessed Mother who can bring light into those drear and numb lives this song is about because she points us to her Son, the Life, the Truth and Way to happiness.  Let us all pray for those who lives this song describes because, in a way – their hell has already started.  And let us all, in our various ministries, exude the joy and peace that we receive from God while ministering.  The thing that this song seems to hunger for – that those who live this life are missing.  This is living the words of the Our Father – ‘Thy kingdom come’
Merry Go Round
writers: Kacey Musgraves, Shane McAnally, Josh Osborne

If you ain’t got two kids by 21,
You’re probably gonna die alone
At least that’s what tradition told you.

And it don’t matter if you don’t believe,
Come Sunday morning you best be there
In the front row, like you’re s’posed to.

Same hurt in every heart.
Same trailer, different park.

Mamas hooked on Mary Kay
Brothers hooked on Mary Jane
And Daddies hooked on Mary two doors down.

Mary Mary quite contrary,
We get bored so we get married
And just like dust we settle in this town.
On this broken merry go ’round and ’round and ’round we go,
Where it stops nobody knows…
And it ain’t slowin’ down, this merry go ’round…

We think the first time’s good enough,
So we hold on to high school love,
Say we won’t end up like our parents.

Tiny little boxes in a row,
Ain’t want you want it’s what you know,
Just happy in the shoes you’re wearin’.

Same checks we’re always cashin’,
To buy a little more distraction.

Cause Mamas hooked on Mary Kay
Brothers hooked on Mary Jane
Daddies hooked on Mary two doors down.

Mary Mary quite contrary,
We get bored so we get married
And just like dust we settle in this town.
On this broken merry go ’round and ’round and ’round we go,
Where we stop nobody knows…
And it ain’t slowin’ down, this merry go ’round…

Mary Mary quite contrary,
We’re so bored until we’re buried.
And just like dust we settle in this town.
On this broken merry go ’round…
Merry go ’round…

Jack and Jill went up the hill,
Jack burned out on booze and pills,
And Mary had a little lamb,
Mary just don’t give a damn no more.

The New Evangelization

Today’s gospel, taken from Mark, puts us at a pivotal point in Christ’s journey to Jerusalem – from Jericho He now climbs to Jerusalem.  He is climbing to His passion, to the salvific act for the human race.  We hear that from Jericho He now has multitudes following Him – those multitudes will shortly proclaim Him Messiah. – so said Pope Benedict this morning at the closing Mass of the Ordinary Synod of Bishops on the new evangelization.

As I was listening to those beginning words of the Holy Father’s Homily it also struck me that this mission, the mission of Christ’s saving action, the mission of His Mystical Body the Church, which has universal scope, is ultimately based on individual actions.  Bartimaeus the blind man, a no-body, really, in the eyes of society, sits beside the road begging, doing what he has to survive, living the only life he knows.  But when he heard of Jesus passing he calls out to Him, and unlike the apostles James and John (from last week’s Gospel reading) who asked Jesus for a prestigious place next to Him Bartimaeus asks “Master, I want to see.”  Bartimaeus asks nothing grandiose but simple; he wants to see – nothing else – he would take care of the rest of his life if only the Lord would grant him sight.  The Lord grants it.  The Lord’s loving action powerfully points out that His universal ministry is built on individual interaction with society’s “small ones”.

As I watched Cardinals, Bishops, Priests, Deacons and the Pope process out from the Vatican I though what a great lesson this Gospel is to everyone who follows Christ the Lord.  It should be our goal in life to act not like the crowd to Bartimeaus when “many rebuked him, telling him to be silent.”,only thinking of the big view of Christianity; but to respond as they did later when they said “Take courage; get up, Jesus is calling you.”  The New Evangelization is new only in its cultural and temporal contexts, but at its core it is the same as when Jesus healed Bartimeaus: loving concern for everyone, individually.  Jesus said exactly this when asked what the greatest commandment is

“You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

May the Lord guide our hearts to live this great commandment and evangelize everyone who comes across our paths.

Comforting Words

This afternoon I attended a Mass of Thanksgiving with the Filipino Community for today’s canonization of Saint Pedro Calungsod a martyr in the 1600’s along with him the United States got two new saints one of whom was a martyr as well, Saint Kateri Tekakwitha, the first native American saint. And though I am sure that the Vatican planned the Canonization Ceremony with the readings in mind, I still found it amazing just how these two martyrs reflect the spirit of today’s readings and just how hard it is for most of us to follow in their footsteps.

Today’s Mass readings bring an edge of uneasiness to those who hear them. In our busy day-to-day struggles we are conditioned to meet and overcome the obstacles in our way. We go forward to meet situations, handle them and then move on; or retreat and go another way. And though there are many around us, sometimes moving with us – our path still seems to us to be a solitary one. There is a comfort in this method – we don’t have to rely on anyone but ourselves – we find our own path. But Holy Mother Church urges us to trust in God and that He will provide.

So to hear the words of Isaiah the prophet “The Lord was pleased to crush him in infirmity.” We are left with concern – if God does that to His beloved Son what of us?

And to hear Christ tell those around Him: “For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.” We feel nervous that, for God, the path for our salvation leads through such pain and suffering.

Then to hear Christ tell us that: “The cup that I drink, you will drink, and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized;” meaning that we too shall follow His path – is downright frightening. (James and John didn’t have the knowledge that we do.)

So how do we convince ourselves that this is the path we must be walk? That we want to go through this gauntlet? Indeed St Paul called this message of the cross: “a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles…” So how do we move forward on this path; when our whole life has been one of seemingly individual challenges.

Precisely because the witness of Christ’s love for us tells us so; through His words and actions our Lord urges us not so much to follow him but to walk with Him; He is there beside us. His loving help for us, His grace given is all we need. We are always strengthened as we journey – we know how this will end – and maybe most importantly, our companion has gone through exactly what we experience – He knows and understands – we are never alone; or as is so beautifully put in today’s second reading from the Letter to the Hebrews:

Since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens,
Jesus, the Son of God,
let us hold fast to our confession.
For we do not have a high priest
who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses,
but one who has similarly been tested in every way,
yet without sin.
So let us confidently approach the throne of grace
to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help.

These words are what these two saints Pedro and Kateri witnessed to, to the point of their lives; it is what all the saints have successfully attained and it is what, I pray, each of us find.

Saints Pedro and Kateri pray for us.