You won't find true love in Albert Square
Sunday’s Second Reading (Romans 12:1-2):
Think of God’s mercy, my brothers, and worship him, I beg you, in a way that is worthy of thinking beings, by offering your living bodies as a holy sacrifice, truly pleasing to God. Do not model yourselves on the behaviour of the world around you, but let your behaviour change, modelled by your new mind. This is the only way to discover the will of God and know what is good, what it is that God wants, what is the perfect thing to do.
It’s quite difficult to not model ourselves on the behaviour of the world around us. Everywhere we turn we hear voices and read texts telling us what it is to be normal and how we are to behave.
For anyone who watches soap operas on a regular basis you will be familiar with the idea that showing hatred towards your family and friends is perfectly normal. You will be familiar with the idea that sleeping with another person behind your partner’s back is perfectly normal.
While many may shrug off the misdemeanours of the residents of Albert Square and Weatherfield as being harmless; there can be little doubt that these performances are noted by children and young adults. However, what is perhaps more worrying is the effect it appears to be having on adults who appear to be very inclined to buy into the nonsense.
It isn’t only soap operas that are to blame. Most of what we now watch in TV land is filled with people fighting, people hating, people criticising, people gossiping and so on. Add to that the influence of a secular media along with the hatred dished out on social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter and you have all the ingredients of a war on Christ’s fundamental commandment to love our neighbour.
St Paul, in today’s reading, is mindful of the nonsense that goes on around us. While he may not have had the benefit of television, radio or social media, he was clearly aware of worldly influences encouraging people to do the wrong thing.
Every day we are being encouraged to do the wrong thing. The mainstream media, including TV news bulletins, are constantly blaming people for things gone wrong. If it isn’t the social worker’s fault then it is definitely the fault of the psychiatrist, or is it the police? Pope Francis has been persistent in his call to stop criticising, to stop gossiping, to stop complaining and to stop being divisive. If you weren’t aware of this then you don’t listen to Pope Francis enough because he talks about these things all the time.
We need to be aware of what is going around us and how it influences us. We should realise that true joy is found in the love we offer Christ and the love we offer our neighbour. What you see on Eastenders and Coronation Street rarely passes for love. What we see in the mainstream media rarely passes for love. And when we gossip about people, are we not going against the commandment to love? What about when we criticise or complain unjustly, aren’t we also going against Christ’s commandment? Each time we do these things we do them to Jesus and that is not good.
True love cannot be found in a TV schedule nor can it be found on the front page of today’s tabloid. True love is found in Jesus Christ. Listen to the words of St Paul when he encourages us to offer our living bodies as a holy sacrifice. We must work hard to make our bodies pure so that they can be used by the Holy Spirit to spread the love of Christ. It's not going to be easy but surely with perseverance we can succeed? Why don't we start by studying the scriptures and studying Church teaching on all matters and immerse ourselves in Good News for a change? Perhaps then we will discover the true will of God. Perhaps then we will discover what is truly good.