Propaganda – Fr. Tom Tank

Fr. Tom Tank’s Homily May 2, 2020

“Good Shepherd feast is a wonderful time.  It’s a time of celebrating that compassionate care of Christ for each and every one of us.  It is one of those warm images of Christ that is there.  I remember several years ago reading about a comparison between Catholics and Protestants and on their more predominant images of Christ and it was interesting that Catholics tend to identify the more common image of Christ is that of the crucifixion, Jesus dying on the cross out of love for each and every one of us.  For Protestants it’s the picture of the Good Shepherd, that compassionate one that one who kind of holds the sheep in his arms with a tenderness and it’s interesting that for us, both of these are gathered together, joined together in our readings today where we reflect upon yes, the Good Shepherd of our souls, but we also reflect upon that second reading that Jesus truly died for us and that if we are one with Christ there will be suffering within our life that we should not be surprised that difficulties and challenges come into our life if we truly follow the way of Jesus and so we are reminded yes both of the suffering of Christ, but also of his compassionate care.  In that responsorial psalm that 23rd Psalm there’s that line, ‘even if I walk in the valley of darkness I fear no evil for you are at my side with your rod and your staff that give me courage.’  That’s a very comforting message of Christ as the shepherd that he walks with us through the dark valley.  He doesn’t promise us that we’re not gonna have dark valleys and there are these times of struggles and challenges that we experience even now, but what he does promise is that he will be with us that he walks with us in the midst of these challenges in the midst of these challenges in the midst of difficulties and that he does give us courage.  He gives us that strength of the Holy Spirit  to truly have the heart to carry on for truly that is where the word courage comes from.  Cur in Latin means the heart and so he gives us his own heart that we may follow in his ways knowing that he walks with us even in the darkest of valleys.

One of the main themes in our Gospel today is where Jesus says, ‘My sheep hear my voice and they follow me.’  One of the things that is kind of unique about sheep is they have the ability to recognize their own master’s voice, the shepherd’s voice and they respond to that voice when he would come and call out his own sheep and several flocks would be gathered together within the sheep fold, but he would call his own, they would hear his voice and they would follow.  When they heard other voices they did not move, they did not follow and so Jesus said that we need to be attuned to His voice to listen to his voice and not to be led away by other voices and there are so many voices that speak to us today.  There are so many messages that are given.  There’s so much division.  There’s so much contention.  There’s so much falsity within our world and yet in the midst of that we are called to listen to that voice of Christ.

I’m reminded of Greek Mythology there is that story of what is called the Sirens and the Sirens inhabited one of the coasts that the sailors had to go by, around, and between to present day Turkey and Greece and when they would go by there there were these enchanting sounds that would just draw the sailors in.  They just spoke to their mind and to their heart and they just would draw them in and the Sirens sounded so wonderful and beautiful, but then when the sailors would go in they would be dashed against the rock and they would all be killed and slaughtered, their boats in ruin their lives been taken. In fact it’s said that when the sailors knew about that when they went around that coast they would tie themselves to the Mast of the ship so that they would not be responsive to the voice of the Sirens, those Sirens that sounded so beautiful, but led to death.  There’s a lot of Sirens within our world today.  There’s a lot of things that call us, that draw us not to goodness, but to evil.  They sound good, but they are disparingly false.  Like many of us, I’ve been doing some reading these days and in one book another book was mentioned that I would like to get a hold of, but it was a good book called, ‘Propaganda’.  That word, ‘propaganda’ when I heard that book growing up during the whole Cold War, I’ve always considered that as applying to Russia or China and certainly they are experts at propaganda, but this book refers to the propaganda within our own nation, within our own nation within the advertising within the various causes that are presented.  What’s bad about propaganda is it’s half truths, but that means that it’s half lies.  They say even in good propaganda people will agree with 90% and be easily enthralled with that, but then buying the 10% it really destroys the good that was there.  Propaganda is part of the Siren in our world, in our lives, those false messages those half truths, those things that can sound convincing, but truly are not from the voice of God, they’re not the voice of the Good Shepherd who calls us to life, but rather they call us to ruin tey call us to sin they call us to destruction, spiritual and yes, human destruction so often in what we experience.  Certainly lives have been changed because of propaganda so many people led astray.  The Good Shepherd speaks to us the word of truth and that is the reason why we need to attune our ears to that truth of Christ Jesus that truth reflected in the scriptures that trth reflected in the tradition the teachings of the Church that truth that truly is there to set us free to bring us real freedom not to lead us into another slavery, but to bring us a freedom of being able to live as children of God.  Jesus concludes the Gospel today with that very great, wonderful promise, ‘I have come that they may have life and have it more abundantly.’  That’s the desire of each one of us, to have the fullness of life that fullness of truth and happiness not only here, but eternally.  Jesus promises, ‘I come that you might have life and have it ever more abundantly.’”