One of the many things that bothers many of us about this election, I think, it the lack of decency, the lack of honor, the lack of respect we see each day on the television, at each debate, at each rally. It is perhaps the first time in our history the presidential candidates refuse to shake hands. There is a fundamental lack of honor, a lack of respect.
Honor. I’ve been thinking of that a bit lately. We had two weddings here yesterday. One thing that always gets me at a wedding is when the groom and then the bride use these words in their promises: “I will love you, and honor you, all the days of my life.” We promise when we accept our vocations to show honor each and every day of our lives–and not to ourselves.
Honor. The Catechism says that honor is simply the social recognition of another person’s dignity–the dignity that we all possess by virtue of being human.
One thing that we Christians ought to do, I think, is to look for opportunities to give honor to others, to give respect, to show honor.
Before I go any father, I think we sin against honor in three important ways. First, calumny. This is when we speak bad things about another person–perhaps a sin the other has committed, a bad deed he has done, etc. These things are true, but we don’t need to broadcast them. Doing so is the sin of calumny. Then there is detraction. This is when we speak something about another person that is not true. We make it up and share it in order that the whole world know how bad the person we are talking about it. Both calumny and detraction are mortal sins. I don’t hear them mentioned often in confession….
And then there is pride, the biggest sin against honor. I think it’s because we want the whole world to know how good we are, how many great things we’ve accomplished. We want the credit. We’re like the bad guy in our Gospel today who with some fake pious prayer thanks God for making him “better than everybody else.” He lists all the reasons he’s better: he pays the right tithes, he fasts, etc. He wasn’t better. In fact, we imitate the other guy at each Mass–the sinner who beats his breast as we do in the Confiteor, and says, I’ve messed up and I’m sorry and the rest are better than I am. He got it, he got what we say at every Mass to God: “All glory and HONOR is yours forever and ever.”
I think we Christians, we ought to look for ways to give honor to God and to others. I’ve been thinking of some ways.
First, we ought to give honor to our spouses. Growing up, normally Mom would take my brother and me home, but sometimes Dad would. We’d stop at the store on the way home to get milk or bread or whatever. Sometimes Dad would also buy flowers. I remember asking him one time what they were for. He said, “They’re for your mother.” I asked hat the occasion was. He said, “Just because.” That’s what I’m talking about. We ought to do things for our spouses just because. It’s been wisely said that the best thing a Dad can do for his kids in raising them is to honor his wife. Why? Becuase doing so teaches a kid how to love, how to respect, how to honor.
Second, we need to honor those we work with. I’ve been thinking fo MSgr and me When I returned from Haiti, Msgr made me breakfast. That was a way of showing honor. He also, without my knowing it, printed copies of my Haiti sermon to distribute to all parishioners. That honored me big time. I also try to show Msgr honor. Sometimes people will tell me they think I’m a wonderful priest. I usually reply, “It’s because Msgr lets me be, he opens so many doors for me.” I would be a lousy priest here if it weren’t for Msgr. Plus I clean the dishes in the rectory….
Third, we need to honor our parents. This is the fourth commandment. Kids: give your mothers dandelions. Draw your parents pictures. Give them hugs. Do what they say. And parents: honor your kids. Hug them, tell them you love them, give them a happy home to grow up in. Brag on them. They may bother you sometimes. They are kids. Forgive them and rememebr they are miracles entrusted to you, given to you.
Fourth, honor those you come into daily contact with. At bus driver school, they said that so few bus drivers say good morning to the kids as they walk in, and so few kids say thanks as htey walk out. Honor one another folks! Doing so might be just what someone needs at just the right moment.
Fifth, we honor life. As our first reading says, we honor those who are most vulnerable. We honor the oppressed, the orphan, the poor. We honor the immigrant (JESUS WAS AN IMMIGRANT), and the unborn, and the elderly. We honor human life in all its forms.
Above all, we honor God and his church. We speak highly of our faith, of our parish, of our priests, of our pope, of our God. We make the sign fo the cross, we read our bibles. We pray . We live good lives.
Folks, here’s the challenge this week: look for new ways to show honor to your spouses and kids and parents and our Good God.