The Homily Generator: Nine Steps Towards A Successful Career
Dear Father, do you want to be as popular as Francis, the red-nosed Mercy Guy? Do you want to be considered a person of profound and merciful thinking every time you open your mouth? Would you like to become a Bishop?
Learn to use Francis’ Banality Generator. You will have to switch your brains off and forget every notion of dignity, I know. But after a while, everything will come very natural; particularly if you’re a Jesuit.
Learn these easy steps, and success will be assured.
1) Make an absurd statement. Say: “Christianity is not navel-gazing”. Not that anyone ever thought it, but it will make you look good whilst you are saying, in fact, something of astonishing banality.
2) Make the contrary example, no matter how banal. Say: to be Christian is to love others. Again, every child knows it, but when you say it it must sound special. To this aim, try to use pseudo-modern V II waffle: “get out of oneself”. It will make you look a refined thinker.
3) Expand on the bloody obvious,like: love isn’t selfish, love is generous. Again, put it in V II terms: love “does not turn in itself”. See above for the effect you are looking for.
4) Mention Jesus. Every episode from the Gospel will do. Ideally, there’s one in the Mass of the day.
5) Whatever the episode, make of Jesus the guarantor for what you are about to say. Jesus was this, not that. Jesus said this, not that other. Jesus was non-judgmental, anti-rich, pro-poor. Jesus was a revolutionary. Jesus was an environmentalist. Everything goes.
6) Once you have Jesus as your certificate of authenticity, unload the bomb: say, “do not gossip” if you are angry at criticising you, “do not judge” if you are angry at journalist, but “he who gets the Holy Ghost can judge” if you have no argument with the theologians telling you how wrong you are. You see, at this point the main torpedo of the day has been launched: but you have looked so good and Jesus-like all the time.
7) Waffle about poverty. Poverty is always good. You can mix and match with social justice, though, or with the vulnerable. Women are always fine. But poverty must always be in the mix. Old people are poor, because they’re old. Young people are poor, because they’re young. People on a wheelchair are poor, because they’re in a wheelchair. You get the drift. Never a homily without poverty. Trust me on that, it works wonders.
8) Waffle some more. People will call you “approachable”, and it will allow you to indulge in that most delicious hobby of yours: listening to yourself.
9) Wrap it up by encouraging others to be more like Christ. Say it with a very persuaded voice. They won’t notice you sell Him every day.
Follow these nine steps and your popularity will suddenly increase. Everyone will say how nice you are; particularly non-Catholics. Your congregation will slowly dwindle, but those who remain will impress the bishop, and praise you all the time. You will show to everybody who is anybody that you are eminently suitable for a big promotion; a clergyman of sound mind, who understands the implications of the Modern Times.
In time, the rewards are sure to come. Are we, or are we not, in the Age of Mercy?