Summary: The information-driven society is one that tries to secularize and pervert the human family into something it can never become.

Thursday of 5th week in Course 2015

Joy of the Gospel

Jesus has such a sense of humor that some commentators have mistaken it for cruelty. Of course, Jesus never sinned, so thinking this comment about throwing the bread to the dogs is a real insult is wrongheaded thinking. In reality, Jesus was having a little joke with the Greek woman at the expense of the wrongheaded Jewish notion that anybody but a full-blooded Jew was a dirty dog. He is probably quoting some rabbi or street preacher who was ranting against trying to convert the Gentiles to true worship. To think otherwise is to totally misunderstand the mission of Christ–to bring all humans to salvation through faith, right behavior, and right worship. The quick-thinking pagan catches Jesus’s intention–probably from His nonverbal language like a smile–and plays along with the joke. She even calls Him “master”–after all, doesn’t the family let the little dogs snap up the crumbs falling from the kids’ table? In other words, even the leavings of Christ’s miracles are miracles in themselves.

The reading we just heard from Genesis is certainly one of Christ’s favorites–it is one Torah passage that Jesus quotes literally: “a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh.” The original intent of the Creator for humans is in a mystical way to be united with His creation, with the summit of His creation, as a husband is to His wife. That’s not sexual, for God is genderless, and in heaven no sexual union will be needed because we will have perfect union with the Trinity. No. God loves us into being, and wants to love us into perfect fulfillment of our destiny to be in His image and likeness. He does this through perfect self-giving, and through giving us gifts that enable us to be self-givers. That requires a transformation, a real education in right living, which first takes place in our parents’ home and then in the home we make with our spouses and children. And it is precisely what secular society is in the process of ruining by dehumanizing us through consumerism, individualization, and secularization.

The Pope recognizes this: “The process of secularization tends to reduce the faith and the Church to the sphere of the private and personal. Furthermore, by completely rejecting the transcendent, it has produced a growing deterioration of ethics, a weakening of the sense of personal and collective sin, and a steady increase in relativism. These have led to a general sense of disorientation, especially in the periods of adolescence and young adulthood which are so vulnerable to change. As the bishops of the United States of America have rightly pointed out, while the Church insists on the existence of objective moral norms which are valid for everyone, “there are those in our culture who portray this teaching as unjust, that is, as opposed to basic human rights. Such claims usually follow from a form of moral relativism that is joined, not without inconsistency, to a belief in the absolute rights of individuals. In this view, the Church is perceived as promoting a particular prejudice and as interfering with individual freedom. We are living in an information-driven society which bombards us indiscriminately with data – all treated as being of equal importance – and which leads to remarkable superficiality in the area of moral discernment. In response, we need to provide an education which teaches critical thinking and encourages the development of mature moral values.”

But there are signs of pushback, he believes: “Despite the tide of secularism which has swept our societies, in many countries – even those where Christians are a minority – the Catholic Church is considered a credible institution by public opinion, and trusted for her solidarity and concern for those in greatest need. Again and again, the Church has acted as a mediator in finding solutions to problems affecting peace, social harmony, the land, the defence of life, human and civil rights, and so forth. And how much good has been done by Catholic schools and universities around the world! This is a good thing. Yet, we find it difficult to make people see that when we raise other questions less palatable to public opinion, we are doing so out of fidelity to precisely the same convictions about human dignity and the common good.”

He goes on to acknowledge the cultural crisis of the family I mentioned earlier, perhaps the worst of our crises. The human family is the “fundamental cell of society, where we learn to live with others despite our differences and to belong to one another; it is also the place where parents pass on the faith to their children.” We cannot allow secular society to reduce marriage to a malleable form of “mere emotional satisfaction.” This is why we must pray daily for families, and support those institutions and law firms, like the Thomas More Society, that battle governments who want to pervert family and marriage into something it can never be.

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