9/16/12 10:50 AM
You can find the Readings for this homily here:
In this homily, I mention the “Prosperity Gospel” being preached by people like Joel Osteen. After delivering the homily and reflecting on it some more. I felt unsettled. I felt like I did not give Osteen the full respect and consideration he, all ministers, and all human beings are due. I always seek to avoid extremism and unreflective bashing of anybody or anything. And I feel like I was a touch imbalanced in my commentary. I apologize for that and would like to moderate my comments with this short reflection.
I know that Osteen does not identify himself formally with the Prosperity Gospel. And I am no expert about Joel Osteen or the “Prosperity Gospel.” However, his sermons and writings seem to fall in line with this theological movement. The “Prosperity Gospel” or “Healthy & Wealth Gospel” preaches that financial prosperity is, in some way, part of God’s will for Christians.
I am sure Osteen’s preaching have helped people in some ways. I should have mentioned that in my homily. I am sure some things he preaches are helpful and positive. And I wish him all the best. I admire his creativity and abliity to touch the hearts of millions of people. Anyone who is helping to spread the name of Jesus Christ and encourage love to him and his loving Father, is a friend of mine. We are all children of God. And we are all on the same team. Both that of the human family…and in an even more intimate circle…the Christian family…the Body of Christ.
However, I am weary about the way in which he is capturing their hearts. I too believe that God is involved in our lives and that our prayers can be answered in blessings of money and of physical healing. Also, I believe that we as Christians have a responsibility to do our best to help alleviate the sufferings and poverty of others regardless of race, religion, or culture. However, I, nor does the Catholic Church, believe that authentic prayer will necessarily result in blessings of finances and physical health. Sometimes, this is simply not God’s will for some people.
Why? I have no idea. However, we do know that our Sufferings are not always something to be avoided at all costs. Sometimes that are unavoidable and that is simply the Cross in our lives. Through suffering, God redeemed the whole world. And in doing so, once and for all, through the person of Jesus, God made suffering something Redemptive and integral to the Christian life. There are some sufferings in our lives that God will not remove no matter how hard we pray. And that is special opportunity for us to grow very close in relationship, understanding, and union with our Lord Jesus Christ, who was willingly rejected, mocked, scourged, and crucified for the Redemption. Any “Gospel” that leaves no room for this ESSENTIAL aspect of the very CORE of the Gospel….is problematic at best and dangerous at worse.
For these are the words of our Lord…which cannot be put aside. We must face them, be challenged by them, and be willingly to live them in some way, shape, or form:
“Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself,
take up his cross, and follow me.
For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for my sake
and that of the gospel will save it.”