Regína sacratíssimi Rosárii, ora pro nobis!

IHS

Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost—23 August AD 2020
Ave Maria!

 

 

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    There are two events recorded in the Gospels that seem quite similar.[1]   In one, a rich young man asks Jesus what he must do to gain eternal life.  Our Lord answers, saying that he must keep the Commandments, and that he must give up his earthly possessions to follow the kingdom of God.

    In the other event, a scribe or lawyer seems to be trying to get our Lord to make a statement that might be used to discredit Him—but our Lord makes the questioner answer his own question with the only obvious answer.  To gain eternal life we must keep the Commandments  and the Commandments themselves are summarized in the twofold statement that “We must love the Lord our God with our whole heart, and soul, and strength, and mind; and our neighbor as ourselves.”

    Now, it happens that Matthew, Mark, and Luke all record the first of these events, and have our Lord recounting the Commandments as “Thou shalt not kill … not commit adultery … not steal … not bear false witness … Honor thy father and mother and thy neighbor as thyself.”  In other words, our Lord recounts only those Commandments that govern our relationships with other people, leaving out those that pertain to our relationship with God.  Presumably, our Lord knew that both He and the young man in question took the need for loving and honoring God as something given—something that everybody knew they had to do.  In any case, all three of the evangelists record that on this second event, before speaking of the good Samaritan, our Lord spoke of the need for loving God before (and, perhaps, in order to) love ones neighbor.

    As we see today, the Gospels place a very high value on doing good for our neighbors in need.  Yet, there is a danger here.  If we consider only the first event, and come away with the notion that all we have to do is to keep the last seven of the Commandments, we turn the idea of “loving our neighbor because we love God” completely upside down.

    And there seems to be an attraction to many modern people in this backwards way of doing things.   Call it “humanism,” “secular humanism,” or even “Christian humanism,” the idea almost always leads to a pattern of behavior that pushes God into the background.  It almost always makes mankind the center of existence, as though man were his own creator and his own reason for being.  God may be there in the beginning, but quickly fades into human forgetfulness, for lack of a part to play in this "humanistic” scheme of things.

    Yet, as soon as God does start to fade away, the remaining seven Commandments also begin to undergo modification and reinterpretation.  Without God, virtues like truthfulness, chastity, and justice lose their abstract reality.  Without God, the desire to help one's neighbor degenerates into finding “easy solutions” to his problems.  And we see these “easy solutions” all around us, for God has been pushed into the background in much of our own society:

    Social justice no longer consists of training people and giving them the opportunity to make it on their own; it now consists of taking from the “rich” in a Robin Hood sort of fashion, and making people dependent on the state.  In some countries we have the spectacle of armed priests leading bands of revolutionaries to redistribute the wealth—so-called “liberation theology.”

    Chastity no longer consists of honorable marriage entered into for the primary purpose of bringing children into the world and educating them;  in the humanist society it consists of finding ways to avoid procreation, while abandoning and even ridiculing the idea of fidelity within marriage.

    Truthfulness no longer consists of striving to know the reality of a situation as it is known in the mind of God;  for without God there is no truth, and the best we can hope for is friendly compromise—a blurring of reality so that we all get along.

    Without God our “compassion,” if you can call it that, looks not to man as a being with an immortal soul and an eternal destiny.  We even call it “compassion” to put the weak and the suffering to death, to likewise destroy the unfit and the unwanted—the “defectives” of this world.   We call it “compassion” to encourage the misbehavior of the guilty by telling them that there is no such thing as guilt or responsibility.  The one we used to call a sinner must be free to sin, and it is the duty of a “compassionate” society to throw money at all of the problems caused by sin.  Society, we are told, must treat the minds that are twisted by broken homes, and absorb the costs associated with an increasingly addicted populace, and cure the diseases that go hand in hand with promiscuity and infidelity.

    The Good Samaritan in modern society is called upon, not so much to heal the ills of one afflicted by robbers, but is somehow expected to cure the self-inflicted ills of those who refuse to live a life that includes God.   Given the impossibility of an ordered and meaningful existence without God, it is not surprising that there are so few Good Samaritans in this world.

    Just as the world makes no sense without God, it is impossible to “love our neighbors as ourselves,” unless first, “we love the Lord our God with our whole heart, and our whole mind and strength and soul.”  We must, because it is only the goodness of God that makes Good Samaritans.


NOTE: 

[1]   Matthew xix, Mark x, Luke xviii; and Matthew xxii, Mark xii, Luke x.

 


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