What Have We Become?
This week, I learned of
two situations in which people’s reactions led to others to cry out: What have we become?”
One was a case that happened in a New York Restaurant where people who were visiting from another state and not vaccinated were denied entrance to a restaurant. The other was a situation where a major public figure was attacked because of her stance on the vaccine on Twitter. The latter case on which she based her comments has not been verified so I will not address it any further than the vague terms I used.
Both situations can raise the questions of where has the charity and respect gone in our society. Instead we are seeing some anger and violence both in words and actions. In the restaurant, the Maître D’ was assaulted by the complaining visitors.
What have we become? Maybe we need to look no further than the letter of James. What does he address? The source of conflict.
Notice what he says:
Where do the wars and where do the conflicts among you come from? Is it not from your passions that make war within your members? You covet but do not possess. You kill and envy but you cannot obtain; you fight and wage war. You do not possess because you do not ask. 3 You ask but do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.
Your reading ends there. However, the letter obviously continues and the very next word is Adulterers with an exclamation mark. James was an intense fire and brimstone preacher. However, there is a highlight here that reflects a change in our understanding.
James is saying the fruit of war is essential demanding what we want and when we want it. He addresses covetousness and falling victim to our passions.
How does this happen? We turn from the wisdom of God and embrace our own wisdom. We then fall victim to our vision of the world the way we want it verses the way it actually is. We fall victim to the attitude that leads people to be super vulnerable to manipulation.
This is what divides nations. I want my world my way and you want your world your way so we end up in conflict over how we want the world instead of trying to make the world God’s way. Our situation began by us saying we do not need God anymore.
We are on the other side of the Devil’s temptation to believe we are all gods and Friedrich Nietzsche’s proclamation that God is dead.
What happens, we begin to fight with each other because our world is not the way we want it so we must attack those who stand in the way.
It does not matter who they are:
Maybe it’s the opposing party, maybe it’s the unvaccinated or maybe it’s the vaccinated, maybe its another race, maybe its another country. None of this matters, we want our world our way and they stand in the way.
That is the source of wars and battles.
What is the solution?
By deciding that the world God’s way is best and then following God’s commands:
Love God by doing his will,
Love neighbor by being Christ to them.
One other thing we must do—we must give up wanting the world our way and be a part of what God does to bring the world his way.
The fruit of all this is not earning our way to Heaven, it is rather doing our part to bring the peace of Christ to our world.
Let me ask you a question to reflect upon
In the United States, we celebrate our freedom of Speech. We can say anything we want for any reason and no government official can stop us from saying it. Now our rights are defined not by the means but the extremes.
There is a move to stop hate speech. However, the reason why hate speech is protected is because if it is not protected then any speech can be subject to censorship.
We as Americans have the right to say anything we want and the government cannot censor us. We as Catholics have the right to say anything we want in the United States but does that right extend to the Kingdom of Heaven? In other words, if we are truly Catholic, can we really way say anything we want? We have the right to use hate speech as Americans, do we have the same right as Catholics?
The answer to that question will lead us back to James?
As long as I believe in my world the way I want it and to hell with anyone who stands in my way, I am laying the groundwork to war.
The minute I seek to do what is the most loving thing to you and the most loving thing to God then peace reigns.
We cannot do the latter if we choose to decide we no longer need God we are wise enough in our estimation to reject Him.
When publicly people begin to decide what is best for our society on a rational basis leaving love out of it, we then decide who belongs in our society and who does not and we react accordingly, that is what is happening now.
Here is a question: should you receive the vaccine? Many scientists and doctors say yes. Some others including some bishops say no. What does the Pope say? He encourages it but not because of science or the law but because to receive it is a charitable act. Notice the key is charity, not science or the law.
The Pope by the way is also a scientist, he has a degree in chemistry.
Where do wars start? When we decide that we want the world the way we want it and others stand in our way, none of that is a Christian response. The Holy Spirit is a spirit of peace.