An excerpt from a sermon preached at Saint John’s Cathedral on Easter VI 2014
Those following the religious news will have undoubtedly heard of the Black Mass that was to be offered at Harvard University. The reaction to the proposed ceremony was immediate and fierce. The very concept of a Black Mass is a mockery of the Sacrament of the Eucharist. It demonstrated that mocking the religious was within the limits of academic propriety even as a similar mocking of another tradition would be unthinkable in most academic climates.
I was struck that the resulting outcry resulted in the event’s cancellation. Indeed, there was an outpouring of reverence for the Sacrament that was heartening and powerful to behold.
Yet, I find myself wondering if we are being too quick to celebrate. Are we being too quick to overlook blasphemies that occur with depressing regularity all around us every day? The opposition to the Black Mass was predicated on the fact that its very existence is a distortion of the holiness of the Sacrament of Christ’s Body and Blood.
Yet, all around us, every day, there are countless Black Masses being celebrated. There are abuses of Christ’s Body that we tolerate because of their utter commonality and convenience.
Can we pretend that the breaking of bodies by torture is not blasphemy?
Can we pretend that state-sanctioned execution is not blasphemy?
Can we pretend that children’s hunger and starvation is not blasphemy?
Can we pretend that leaving veterans homeless on our streets is not blasphemy?
Can we pretend that breaking the backs of those we call illegal who work our fields is not blasphemy?
Can we pretend that the exploitation of the underaged on our streets is not blasphemy?
Can we pretend that killing innocent children in drone strikes is not blasphemy?
Can we pretend that despoiling the Creation for our children is not blasphemy?
These and countless other blasphemies are happening in all of our communities.
We watch, all too often without comment or conviction, as those who are Christ’s own body are broken and beaten, starved and shamed, abandoned and abused. Make no mistake, these are Black Masses that are celebrated too often. They are perversions of Christ’s longings for his people. They are the sacrifice of the broken and the wounded for the sake of the comfort and amusement of the crowd.
My prayer is that the outpouring of love for the Sacrament that was shown in Boston in the face of a blasphemous mockery can be kindled into an outpouring of love for all those for whom Christ offered himself, those he loves, those he longs for us to welcome, comfort, and heal. We must be as quick to condemn the many acts of blasphemy that happen all around us. Their banal wickedness is the deadly, genuine work of evil rather than the academic mimicry of it.