Homilette for Friday, February 20, 2009

Friday of the Sixth Week in Ordinary Time

(Genesis 11:1-9; Mark 8:34-9:1)

Not only athletes but quite regular men and women look to artificial sources for self-enhancement. After all, if steroids could turn an average hitter into superstar, might they not make any body everyone’s desire or envy by adding proportion? The reading from Genesis today teaches us that the use of technology to boost oneself is really almost as old as the human species itself.

The inhabitants of Babel live not long after Noah who was the first born human after the death of Adam. God told Noah and his sons to “multiply and fill the earth.” Yet some of his descendants come together to build the city of Babel! By their own admission their purpose is egotistical. They want “to make a name for themselves” by means of technology -- molding bricks and hardening them with fire. They seem to think that they might rival God by constructing a tower so high that it reaches heaven. The idea is ludicrous, of course. God has to go down to stop the folly before the people destroy themselves.

What Genesis is critiquing is not the desire of humans to improve themselves but the hubris or pride that drives them to attempt bypassing God in their efforts to win the adulation of others. People want to become idols – to be considered gods among their peers. God is not jealous. He knows quite well that whatever humans make of and by themselves, they will never be more than blind cockroaches in comparison to Him. But God wants His noblest creatures to do better than that. He confuses their languages and resends them throughout the world to open their eyes as it were. God wants us to respect and admire the richness of different individuals and cultures so that we might turn back to him in awe and gratitude.