You may remember the former Boston Police Chief, William Bratton, who later worked in New York and In Los Angeles. Coincidentally, when I was researching this homily, I found a recent interview he made about a month ago of his letting his ambition affect his career.
Bratton, you may remember, had a philosophy called broken windows policing. What that was is if you find someone who broke a window and arrest him for that benign act of property damage, you will probably find he is responsible for a number of other unsolved crimes. So they would look to the smaller crimes to lead them to the perpetrators for the larger ones: broken windows policing.
If you look at it in reverse, the person who would not even steal a candy bar from a store while the owner was in the bathroom, is probably not the one who robbed the bank last week.
This same principle is really what St. Paul is getting at in his letter to the Ephesians. If you are baptized and a disciple of Christ then act like you are baptized and a disciple of Christ. Do not let anything in your behavior indicate otherwise.
Monsignor Jonas Abib put it well. He is the founder of a community to which I am a member Canção Nova he says that members of the community do not wear a habit. Our habit is our smile. Granted, I need to work harder on my smile. But, he explains it well that we must act differently than those who do not believe.
It is not that we do good things, it is that we allow Christ to transform us from the inside out and be people of faith. That means that we hold ourselves to a higher standard in order to please Christ in all that we do.
It is not that we do things to be a good person, but that we do things to please Christ and when what we do does not please Christ then we realize we need to confess it so that we can do better the next time.
The whole mission of what we do is to serve God and not do anything that would be bring disdain upon Christ. That has to be the motive to our actions. We need to love even our enemies because that act may bring them to salvation, which is what Christ wants.
I had an interesting interaction this week. As you know, we have dealt with a couple of men who are homeless who have chosen to sleep on the porch of our rectory. Basically, my reaction was at first, if you sleep here at night and are gone in the morning and not bother anyone I have no problem. You see we are a Church and people see us differently.
But there is another standard that one of the parishioners brought up to me. He too complained but he realized that unlike anyone else, I have to go the extra mile in dealing with this because I am a priest. However that also applies to all of us. One of the standards we have in our faith is to do what you can, and I think we have done all we can. But if the Lord came tomorrow and said when I was homeless you gave me a place to sleep for several days. We could all say “yes” Lord, but you overstayed your welcome and we had to demand that you move.
You see we can’t be like everyone else. We have to be careful of our language, St. Paul says because it makes us look bad as Catholics. It is not a bad sin, but it is not good comportment. We need to be honest in all we do, we must not lie. We must not engage in any form of sexual impurity or even greed which St. Paul condemns as forms of idolatry in the passage after what you see here. Idolatry is the worst sin in the Bible.
Everything we do must show our love for Christ and our desire that every person we meet may know Christ through us.
We also see that there are some bishops who many feel have ignored those words and acted in ways that St. Paul blatantly condemns. Bishops and priests are called to a higher standard, rightly so, but not to a different form of holiness. We are all called to the same form of holiness, it is just that Christ will be stricter with us than with you.
St. John Chrysostom understood that great burden and even loathed the idea of being a priest or a bishop because he knew the awesome responsibility. He ended up being both. But he did not excuse himself or others and preached that famous quote: the road to hell is paved with the skulls of bishops. In other words, those even if they be priests or bishops they will not avoid eternal damnation if they cause scandal. It is the foolish bishop who thinks otherwise.
That is important to understand. Your road to Heaven and mine is to do the will of God. Those who may even be bishops or priests who choose not to follow that road have a terrible future ahead of them. But they do not give you or me the excuse to follow their ways. God will judge us on our faithfulness.
So remember these words of St. Paul to the Ephesians and act in truth being whom you claim to be, that the most people in our lives may be saved.