Sunday, November 3, 2019

Kanye and Zacchaeus

Kanye West is one of the more famous music acts of the 2,000’s, selling about 40 million rap and hip hop albums in that span.

Lots of profanity and so forth

Kim Kardashian is Kanye’s wife, and she is probably more famous than Kanye

If you don’t know who they are, I promise you’ve seen their faces in the grocery check out lane every week for the last 15 years.

About a month ago, Kim Kardashian and her three children were baptized in the Armenian Orthodox Church

Kanye started hosting religious revival prayer services

And this past week, Kanye released a gospel hip-hop album titled Jesus is King

This is not a homily about the text of any of the songs – but there is some good stuff in there – I’ve listened several times….

I would still suggest first reading Scripture, the Catechism and about 200 saints

But the same applies to me too – I would suggest Scripture and the Catechism and hundreds of saints vs. anything I’ve ever written as well

What I want to preach about today is not the text of a song but the reaction Kanye’s conversion has received both inside and outside Christianity

Some have said they think he is insincere

Some have said they think he’s doing it just to make money

Some think he may be sincere now, but he’ll backslide
HE MIGHT!  HE MIGHT BE INSINCERE…HE MIGHT BE DOING IT FOR THE MONEY…HE MIGHT be sincere now, backslide, reconvert, backslide 80 more times…I have no idea.

But it strikes me that Kanye is very much like Zaccheus in the Gospel today. 

Worldly, wealthy, and when Jesus comes and dines with him, it says

“The Pharisees grumbled saying, “He has gone to eat at the house of a sinner”, but folks, he has dined with Saint Peter, Saint John, Judas, Zaccheus, and You and I – we have no idea where our story ends, or where Zacheus’ story ends, nor do we know where Kanye’s story ends….some people that Jesus dines with become saints, and some are Judas’

But this also is not a “do not judge homily” – although we shouldn’t judge a person’s conversion from afar…I should judge actions…If Kanye makes his old music again, I can judge that act…if people who are close to me do something wrong, I should judge that act and speak up…but armchair authenticity judgments from 1,000’s of miles away are gross and wildly inaccurate.

Here is the point of the homily: and it is in the first reading: God rebukes us little by little
Rebuke might turn us off, so let’s rephrase it as “God is patient and showing you the next little thing to work on, to change, the next vice to remove, the next virtue or habit to work on

God is patient with you and I, God is patient with Zacheus, God is patient with Kanye, God was patient with Saint Peter, and God was patient with Judas.
Some respond to God’s nudges, his little by little

God doesn’t usually show us ALL the things we need to fix in ourselves because it might crush us or get us to despair

Some might read the saints and despair – Therese or John of the Cross is so far from who I am
Maybe….but God works with us little by little

And perhaps, for those who can’t handle Therese yet, the words of a Kanye or even a person like me might be the way God chooses to nudge them forward, little by little

Conclusion: I ask you to ask God today “Lord, what is the next thing you are calling me to do…the next step to take…what is a small thing I need to get rid…and a small thing I need to add?”

Jesus wants to dine with us too…and the Pharisees will grumble…but God is working with us little by little.  We thank God for his patience and we get to work with a sense of urgency…because our salvation, as always, hangs in the balance