Sunday, November 25, 2012

Dancing King

In my enthusiasm for Matt's work, I even sent the link for his video to Bishop LaValley.  I don't think he'd mind me sharing his reply:
I know that I’d break something were I to try even one of those steps.
That's surely a reaction Matt got again and again: "But I don't know how to dance!"  (Watch for just a bit, and you'll realize that Matt doesn't know how to dance, either.)  You don't have to know how to dance, because we all know how to laugh and how to smile--skills we perfected in our first weeks of after birth.  The world needs a does of joy!  Laugh and smile enough, and people will wonder what you're up to.  And when they ask, tell them about the King who is the cause of such great rejoicing.

Thanks a bunch, Elizabeth, for sending me that link last Sunday!

   Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe   B 

If you use email, it happens all the time:
somebody forwards you a YouTube video.
You’ve gotta watch this!  It’s the best!
Now—and please, take no offence if you’ve sent me a link before—
but since these videos are rarely
quite as funny or inspirational as they’re made out to be,
I usually watch just the first minute or two
with my finger hovering over “Delete.”

Last weekend, one of you—a parishioner—
sent me an email that said, “This is really fun to watch.”
As usual, I reluctantly pressed play and assumed the position…
…but quickly realized that this video was different.

You see, there’s this guy—Matt Harding, 36—
from Seattle, Washington.
And throughout this five-minute video, Matt is dancing.
As it turns out, this is the fourth video of Matt dancing
to make its way across the Internet in the last few years.
The first two are series of scenes of him
dancing alone in famous places around the world—
something odd and mildly entertaining.
In the next two videos,
Matt still travels widely
but now gets other people—total strangers—
to join him in front of the camera and dance.
And it’s totally captivating.
I’m talking here about thousands of people,
following Matt’s lead in clip after clip.
In that fourth video alone,
Matt dances in 11 U.S. states 
and 55 different countries.

Many of the locations are pretty predictable:
folks in Boston, Berlin, and Beijing, 
bopping to the beat.
Matt starts dancing with a few folks—
some who’ve contacted him earlier online—
and then a curious crowd starts to gather.
Before you know it, 
they’re all mimicking his crazy moves.
And they’re smiling—big smiles.  
And laughing—a lot.
While the dancing is certainly catchy,
more infectious yet is the raw joy 
which accompanies it.
What makes this more remarkable still 
is that Matt has made a point
to go and dance in places 
that we often hear about in the news,
but not for being particularly happy—
places like Rwanda and North Korea, 
like Cairo and Kabul and Gaza.

I’ve been thinking about this video all week.
And whenever I do, I smile.
And I’m clearly not alone:
millions and millions of people 
have watched Matt and shared his videos.
And they’ve left all kinds of comments:
– You’re my hero!
– Matt for President!
Some of the comments run much deeper:
– Sometimes I feel that Matt 
is the only hope for the human race...

Maybe these folks 
are overstating things just a bit.
It’s not like Matt’s dancing 
has ended war or relieved hunger.
He is, after all, making moves, 
not starting a movement.
And yet I can’t help but think that Matt’s dancing
is really making a difference in the world.

Does that sound far-fetched?  Sure it does.
But so does the fact that a Jewish peasant from a backwater town,
condemned to die on a Roman cross 2,000 years ago,
should be honored by more than a billion souls—
one in six people now alive on planet earth—
as humanity’s only Savior and our universal King.
And that, of course, is precisely
what’s happening in the Catholic Church around the globe this very day.

One person can change the world.

Just two weeks ago,
500 of them for you to keep,
500 of them for you to give away.
I was on retreat then, so I didn’t see them go out…
…but I have already started to see the results coming in.
If you’re sitting in this church right now
because a friend or neighbor invited you back
(and I’ve been told some people are),
I want you to know:
we’re so glad you’re here!
But I’ve also been moved by the active parishioners
who have come to tell me about their experience
of giving a book away.
They’ve all had the same look I saw in Matt’s video:
every one of them has been beaming;
there’s been a light of joy on each of their faces.
In encouraging somebody else,
they’ve been renewed and encouraged themselves.

We live in a world 
where there are plenty of things
that bring out the worst in people.
True confession:
I went out with my mother and my brother 
to Wal-Mart at 8:00pm on Thanksgiving night.
Bad, bad idea!
We were there less than five minutes, 
we didn’t buy a thing,
and we all went home pretty disturbed.
It might be the closest I’ve ever seen 
human beings come to behaving like animals.

Why not, instead, be people who go out
and help change things for the better?

Matt Harding has found an incredible way to bring people joy.
But while I’m greatly inspired by his work,
I don’t think one man’s dancing is going to save the world.
And it doesn’t have to.
Because I believe one man’s death already has.
And believing such good news,
in a world where so much news is so very bad,
how could I possibly keep that to myself?

This Sunday’s solemnity
of our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe,
is the perfect time to recall
that we are called to be part of a cosmic choreography.
God’s only begotten Son, the Alpha and the Omega,
who from the first set the world firmly on its foundation
and will come in glory amid the clouds at its end,
lived, died, and rose again in human flesh and blood
to teach us a few essential steps,
that we might dance on earth to the music of heaven.
There is great joy in joining this dance,
and even greater joy in inviting others to join, too.
We don’t think twice
about forwarding silly videos to everybody we know.
Why do we hold back
when it comes to forwarding our faith?
Sure—somebody might quickly hit, “Delete.”
But why keep from them something
that could bring more than just a smile—
something that could bring them salvation?

When I look out into the pews during Mass,
“joy” is not, unfortunately, the first thing I see on most people’s faces.
But if we’ve come to hear our King’s voice speak the truth,
if we’ve come to take our place at his royal table,
then shouldn’t our joy be just as evident, just as contagious,
as it is with all those people watching and dancing with Matt?

My friends, let’s recapture the joy!
And let’s not fear to spread it around.
Do so, and we can change the world.

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