For Sunday, February 19, 2012
7th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Isaiah 43:18-19, 21-22, 24b-25
2 Corinthians 1:18-22
It has run more years than Gunsmoke, surpassing that once record-setting show three years ago. It is now the longest-running American primetime, scripted television series (though it hasn't yet produced as many episodes as Gunsmoke). It is also the longest-running American sitcom. It has won 27 Emmy Awards and, in 1996, a Peabody Award. At the turn of the millennium it got its very own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. On Sunday, amid much hoopla, FOX Broadcasting will air the five hundredth episode of The Simpsons.
Like it or not, this animated television series that began in 1989 has influenced language and pop culture in a myriad of ways. From idioms to television animation, The Simpsons has shown itself to be a powerhouse in the American experience. It is so identified with American culture, that Iran recently banned the sale of Simpson dolls because they "are promoters of Western culture" according to Mohammad Hossein Farjoo, secretary of policymaking at the Institute for the Intellectual Development of Children and Young Adults.
Back in the United States, FOX is pulling out all the stops for episode 500, including a contest in which the winners will attend the screening live in California this weekend. It is unlikely that we'll ever know how many people sent in entries for a chance to be at the show, but it is surely more than the number of onlookers that crowded around the house in Capernaum in which Jesus was teaching. Still, in that Galilean village probably a good percentage of the populous turned out to see Jesus. Mark tells us that there were so many, that when some men came bringing a paralytic, they had to open the roof and lower the man down in front of Jesus.
We could decry the fact that for some people The Simpsons are a bigger draw on Sunday than Jesus. But despite the hype of a television network, five hundred episodes just isn't that big a deal when you take into account the longevity of Christianity. As Bart would say, "Don't have a cow, man!" The Simpsons' twenty-three-year run is just a drop in the bucket of time compared to the centuries of worshippers who followed the story of Jesus in the Gospels Sunday after Sunday.
On the other hand, we can't be complacent when it comes to spreading the good news. Mark tells us that the onlookers in Capernaum went away praising God. They found something incredibly attractive in a man who taught with authority, healed the sick, and forgave sinners.
In this age, it is the actions and attitudes of Christians that help others recognize that there is more to Sundays than football and animated sitcoms. If other people don't see the living message of Christ during the week through those of us who go to church Sunday after Sunday, then maybe we deserve to be eclipsed by a few cartoon characters. With Lent beginning in just a few days, we have an opportunity once more to renew ourselves in the life of Christ. We can take up the spiritual struggle against sin and temptation, and strive to be more generous to those in need as well as more devoted in prayer.
We don't need cartoon animation. But we do need to be animated in Christ!
God of mercy and love,
your Son forgave the sinner
and healed the brokenhearted.
Help us to bear witness to the faith bestowed on us
by your gracious love,
and lead us to the kingdom of your glory.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever.
2012 CATHOLIC PARISH WEBSITE OF THE YEAR
Would you like $500 for your parish? Is your parish website informative and attractive? Enter the 2012 Catholic Parish Website of the Year Contest sponsored by LPi and Catholic Tech Talk. Check out the entry details at: http://catholictechtalk.com/contests/?doing_wp_cron=1329193377.
COLLECTION FOR THE CHURCH IN EASTERN EUROPE
Many dioceses will take up the collection for the Church in Eastern Europe on Ash Wednesday, February 22. Resources are available on the USCCB website at: http://usccb.org/catholic-giving/opportunities-for-giving/central-and-eastern-europe/collection/index.cfm.
FORMING CONSCIENCES FOR FAITHFUL CITIZENSHIP
Bulletin articles, podcasts, Scripture study, lesson plans, discussion guides, and worship ideas are all available from the USCCB in this election year. Plan now how you will use these resources in your parish in this election year. You can access all of these items at: http://usccb.org/issues-and-action/faithful-citizenship/.
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