Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Matthew 5: WWSD (What Would Snooki Do?)

Last Sunday's gospel was the Beatitudes, Matthew 5:1-12.  Which was really great timing.  The Tuesday prior had been The State of the Union Address. Did you catch that? Two big phrases came out of it -- the Sputnik Moment (which I think would be a fantastic name for a sci fi flick, sort of a retro "They Came From Outer Space" meets Aaron Sorkin); and "Winning the Future."

Winning the's not Barack's best work.  I mean, if it's the future, how do you know when you've won it? Plus, what is it you win? A rocket pack? A talking dog?  A robot nanny? 

Not a James Cameron concept.

But his clunky phrases aside, the idea of giving a speech that both describes the state of our country and responds, inspires is a great analogy for the Beatitudes.  Like Barack Obama, the gospel writer Matthew was a guy trying to help his Christian community make sense of their situation.   the concrete realities of persecution that were a daily part of their lives.

Today we read the Beatitudes and we think of them as these wonderful abstractions -- blessed are those who mourn, who show mercy, etc. -- into which we can slide our own experience. 

But Matthew himself wasn't describing a general state of suffering, being persecuted, being poor that anyone could relate to.  He was speaking to the very concrete realities that were a daily part of his community's lives, the hardships they underwent because they were faithful, and trying to offer them some reason for confidence and hope.  A state of the union. 

If it were up to you or me to do what Matthew did today, to imagine a beatitude that Jesus would have for our community, what we might come up with?  What would Jesus have to say to us? It's a great question to bring to prayer;  God, what is the word you would have be spoken to us right now? 

Here's one that I've been kicking around: 

Blessed are those who close their eyes and shut their ears, for they shall be led by God. 

It sounds totally counterintuitive, I know.  Let me explain.  

Last week I was watching Jersey Shore.  

Despite the tremendous amount of silicone, also not a James Cameron concept.

I know, I know, you're all huge fans, so you've probably already seen this one. But bear with me: on this episode, Sammi Sweetheart was like, totally ticked off at Ronnie, because Ronnie was talking to JWOWW and Sammi was so not down for that. And so she was like I'm out of here, and she packed her bags, called her Mom. Seriously, y'all, she was like minutes away from leaving the show for good, and everyone was trying to talk her out of it, but she was all, screw this, I hate that chick and I'm going home.  

And I was thinking you know, our lives are not all that different from Sammi's.  In certain situations our lives, too, are bombarded with tons of desires and expectations and insecurities demanding attention and reaction.    

And no matter how hard we try, sometimes it gets to a point where we are no longer able to navigate it in a reasonable way. We can say, oh, I won't get sucked in, but then ten minutes later we're throwing back tequila shots and pulling someone's hair and it's just ON.  

If you're looking for a concrete version of this, think of a disagreement in your family or with friends that got out of hand; or think of the crazy ways that shock jock Republicans and Democrats treat each other.

Or just remember high school. 

In those situations, God is still there, and inviting us to some place better.  But to see him, you have to shut out all that external stimulus, because all of that just keeps baiting you further and further into the crazy. Which is so not God, so not helpful. 

So, what do you do? You have to close your eyes, shut your ears, breathe -- create a space for yourself where God can take the lead.  "Listen".  

At the end of that Jersey Shore, at the very last minute Sammi Sweetheart decided not to go. She actually went on camera and said, I don't know what I've been thinking. I've been acting crazy.  I'm totally missing all the good things that are going on right in front of me.  

She even made up with JWOWW:

I'm getting a little vklempt.

Blessed are those who close their eyes and shut their ears, for they shall be led by God.  

Maybe God has a beatitude he wants to offer to you? 

Probably not this one...



Rusty's music of the heart said...

You are hysterical, but in the midst of that comes so much wisdom ... love how u pull it all together. Love Mom

Pete the Brit said...

Wow that's some great stuff...thanks :)

Jen Pontow said...

One of my favorite blogs to date. Love how you brought it all together!!

Jim McDermott, SJ said...

Thanks! Glad you liked it!