Sunday, July 06, 2014

The Stupidity Of Some Really Smart People

(Fourteenth Sunday of the Year (A): This homily was given on July 6, 2014 at St. Pius X Church, Westerly, R.I. by Fr. Raymond Suriani.  Read Matthew 11: 25-30.)

[For the audio version of this homily, click here: Fourteenth Sunday 2014]

“The stupidity of some really smart people.”

Because I post my homilies on my blog every week, I have to come up with a short title for each of them.

Well, believe it or not, that was the most accurate title I could come up with for today’s homily, given its subject matter.

I hope you’re not offended by the language, especially if you’re somebody who’s considered to be “smart” by your peers.

I could have entitled it, “The intellectually-challenged condition of some really smart people”—but that just didn’t have the same “ring”—or the same zing!—to it.

But please notice—the designation applies only to some smart people.  Not everyone with a high IQ is included here. 

In today’s gospel reading from Matthew 11 Jesus says, “I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to little ones.”

Now contrary to what some people think, Jesus was NOT advocating ignorance here and telling us to be childish in our relationship with him.  Rather, he was telling us that if we want to be considered his faithful disciples we need to be childlike—which is quite different!

To be childlike before God means to be humble; it means that you know that, when all is said and done, you are totally dependent on your Father (i.e., your HEAVENLY FATHER).   To be childlike before God means that you’re in touch with—and willing to admit—your own imperfections.  It means that you know you don’t have all the answers.  But it also means that you’re TEACHABLE (in other words, that you’re open to being taught the right answers by your heavenly Father through his chosen instruments here on earth).

Now the good news is that there are many very smart people in our world today who DO embody this kind of childlikeness in their lives.  Some of them, I believe, are members of this parish.  These intelligent, devout men and women have many spiritual ancestors: people like St. Paul; St. Thomas Aquinas (who was arguably the greatest theologian of all time); St. Teresa of Avila; St. Edith Stein (who was a brilliant philosopher); St. John Paul II—and on and on the list goes.

But there many others out there who think that they know more than God (and certainly more than the Church!)—and this leads them, unfortunately, to advocate and support certain foundational ideas that, quite frankly, are really stupid!

Let me give you a list of them.  (This, by the way, is only a partial list—to give an exhaustive one would require hours.)  I entitle it, “Some of the most noteworthy stupid ideas of some really smart people in 2014.”

Because some people will do the wrong thing, we have to give everyone the tools and the help they need to do the wrong thing.

That’s the stupid idea that stands behind, among other things, the “safe-sex education” that many of your children and grandchildren receive in school (yes, even here in wonderful Westerly!).  But not at St. Pius X School!  We teach our young people the truth in an age-appropriate way.

Yet another reason to send your children there!

Because some people will do the wrong thing, we have to legalize the wrong thing so that people can do the wrong thing “safely.”  

This is the stupid idea that drives the smart people who want to legalize things like recreational drugs and prostitution—as it drove some smart (and evil) people 40 years ago in their efforts to legalize abortion.

Human life begins whenever we say it begins.  

The science of genetics has proven, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that a new and separate human life is present at the moment of conception—and up until a few years ago all the medical literature reflected that truth.  But then certain smart people wanted to be able to say that the birth control pill can never, ever function as an abortifacient (which it CAN in certain circumstances!); and so, without any scientific evidence whatsoever, they simply changed the definition of pregnancy!  Now we’re told that pregnancy begins at implantation and not at conception.  Thus, during the time between conception and implantation (according to these smart men and women), you can do whatever you want to do to that new human life in the womb!

How convenient!  How clever!  

And how stupid.

Directly killing an innocent human being can be an act of compassion and love.  

A lot of smart people are acting on this stupid idea these days by removing food and hydration from terminally ill patients long before their bodies have begun “shut down.”  This is one reason why you should all make plans to be here on Tuesday, October 14, when Fr. Tad Pacholczyk will be with us to talk about “end of life issues.”  

(The announcement is in the bulletin.)

For the sake of your sick and elderly loved ones you need to be here for that presentation.

A choice can be considered good without any reference whatsoever to the “object” of the choice.  

Many of our brilliant politicians who proudly call themselves “pro-choice” believe that idea—which is, without question, one of the stupidest ideas of all!

Even most five-year-olds know that one of the ways that you evaluate a particular choice is by looking at its “object”: It’s a good choice if the “object” of the choice is good; it’s a bad choice if the “object” of the choice is bad.

Perhaps we should seriously consider electing some kindergarteners to Congress later this year!  They’d probably do a better job than the people who are there right now.

They certainly couldn’t do much worse!

Marriage is whatever you say it is—unless you say that it’s exclusively between one man and one woman.  In that case, marriage is NOT what you say it is!  

Now it would be nice if you could reason with a smart person who embraced this particular stupid idea by saying to that person, “But marriage has never involved two people of the same gender.  Since the beginning of human history marriage has always involved a man and a woman, because only a man and a woman have the natural potential to beget children.”  

But that type of reasoning won’t work with them, because another stupid idea that these smart people believe (and this is the last one I’ll mention today) is that they are smarter than everyone else who’s come before them!

So it doesn’t matter what intelligent men and women have believed in the past.  It doesn’t matter what the ancient philosophers and moralists and civil leaders thought—it doesn’t even matter what people in the last century thought and did.

These smart people of 2014 say, “We are the truly enlightened ones.  We know better than all the men and women of the past put together, so we can disregard everything that they’ve said—if we choose to.”

“I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to little ones.”

Let me conclude now on a slightly more positive note.  We need to remember that the same Jesus who said these words to us this morning also said, “Seek, and you shall find.”  This means that there’s always hope—even for very, very smart people who believe very, very stupid ideas.  If they begin to seek the truth sincerely and humbly, they can ALWAYS find it.

Like St. Augustine did.  Augustine, as many of us know, was a brilliant young intellectual of the 4th century who embraced some incredibly dumb ideas—mostly because he wanted to justify his immoral lifestyle.

And in the process he drove his saintly mother crazy!


And when he changed, his stupid ideas left him, never to return.

Let us pray at this Mass that God will give us many more “St. Augustines” in our world today.