Are You Creatively Bad or Good?

6 November 2009. Friday of the 31st Week in Ordinary Time
Romans 15, 14-21; Psalm 98; Luke 16, 1-8

It is never a wonder how we can be creatively bad. Think for a moment the many ways we invent to kill a person. Let’s be honest: when we are angry, we can brew a retaliation scheme or to many of us, a Plan A, B and C. Most of us don’t carry it out for several reasons: some for fear of punishment or for the refusal to belong to a lower level of humanity. Think of another form: we can concoct a project that may seem harmless to people, but carries with it a subliminal message that would eventually destroy our sense of values. Take for example our ads: they sell food or clothing, but they give us a wrong sense of sexuality. Think of another example: violent movies may develop a culture of death especially when viewed by children without parental guidance. We can be scheming on the inside but angelic on the outside like many of the villains on the boob tube as well as on youtube. Some are not done with malice since our values have been blurred. Think of every single episode in many series in Fox Crime or AXN channels: every one of them has a creative way to be evil.

I watch these channels because my favorite TV series are there. One particular series is CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. I have gorged on every episode of Vegas, New York and Miami. The reason is simple: just as the opponents are creatively bad, the protagonists are creatively good. I love the way they use science to track down a criminal. Their various methods give justice to the victims.

This is the gist of the Gospel today. Jesus said: “For the children of this world are more prudent in dealing with their own generation than the children of light.” It means that the children of darkness are more creative than the children of the light. Think again: our ways to be good revolve around dole-out donations, rummage sales and outreach programs or tried musical forms for worship. When we hear “church” we also hear “boring,” “rigid,” and “outdated” never “exciting,” “hip,” or “relevant”. We are losing what made the Church attractive in the first place.

Think of a liturgical music norm in a diocese not far from Manila: to them there should be no repetition such as a refrain in the Gloria because it is written as such in the Sacramentary. To do so is wrong. But think of prayers: there are prayers which are repeated. But the Church document, Sing to the Lord, tells us that the Gloria can be done responsorially, meaning with a refrain for all people to sing. We sometimes interpret strictly what can be interpreted loosely. There is a dark and rigid Catholicism that turns off many people. We should take the cue.

What prevents us from being creatively good? I can think of one thing today: the fear of the unknown and the unfamiliar. We are afraid of committing mistakes. I dare say, we have to distinguish the realm of morality from others. Of course, NO to immorality. But in terms of ways and means that are not in the realm of the moral, such as choosing songs for worship, decoration styles, methods in promoting a spiritual activity, manner of helping the poor, we should never be stuck to the one and the tried way. People in the church are very much afraid of changes; and often they are very slow in responding to the signs of the times and the urging of the Spirit. The creatives usually will push the boundaries of set ways: often, we find that those who dared are the ones who discover new exciting activities that bring life back to a community. Jesus said, “new wine in new wineskins”.

Today, the message is clear. If the challenge is outside the realm of the moral, stretch your creativity. Let wild ideas flow in brainstorming; just let all ideas come. And when every single mind has been squeezed like a lemon, then filter the ones that are possible. Choose by discerning well and bringing it to prayer. Try it out first, and then evaluate. Give a new idea a chance.

Remember, God is the most creative and His Spirit is in us. Who can concoct the idea that a barren old woman can bear children, a Virgin can be a mother, a child in a stable is King? Or the idea that to save is to die. Those are wild, crazy and impossible ideas. But these ideas caught and gripped the imagination of millions that many were willing to give up their lives to the very Source of them. The first reading affirms that we are filled with knowledge and goodness. It is time to use our brains and our goodness to make the Church exciting to belong to. God, to me, is cool.

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