FOURTEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME – A 20
“I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to little ones.”
Bill Donohue, the President of the Catholic League, a Catholic anti-defamation organization, writes in his latest book “Why does everything seem to be out of whack in our society?” “…It’s as though everything we have learned about the human condition throughout history has been totally discarded, if not trampled on. Indeed, most of our problems” he writes “are the direct consequence of highly educated persons, many of whom are intellectuals.”
Being wise and learned is a good thing but Jesus is speaking in today’s gospel of those whose pride and inflated ego make them wise and learned in their own estimation and for their own purposes. Motivated by their own agendas, they turn education into indoctrination and political correctness, not into a search for truth.
The learned and the clever think that education can make everything right in this world. The humble, the little ones, think making their lives holy and submitting to God makes more sense.
A noted author, Mary Eberstadt, argues in one of her books that the decline of the family and the decline of faith began at the same time in our nation and are therefore connected. When the family gets renewed, faith will get renewed and vice versa. Family and faith nourish each other. We have a long way to go before family is renewed because the learned and the clever today have redefined the meaning of family.
Despite the teaching of the church that man was weakened by original sin, the proud intellectuals of the eighteenth-century Enlightenment movement believed that man was basically good. He was corrupted not by a weak will, but by society. All that was needed to straighten man out was to put the “right persons” in charge of society and to make the “right” laws. However, these enlightened “geniuses” gave us Robespierre who not only failed to deliver liberty, fraternity, and equality; but also succeeded in providing oppression, inequality, division, and mass murder. Stalin, Hitler, Mao Tse Tung, and Pol Pot followed suit with genocide. And today we are witnessing so-called “enlightened” – “woke”— “with it” — mobs heading in the same direction.
The weeds and the wheat may have to live together until the Lord separates them, but God forbid that we let the weeds kill the wheat.
Today, many in their pride still think that it is a matter of having the “right” people, the so-called “enlightened,” rule us from without rather than God ruling us from within. William Buckley, Jr. said famously that he would rather be ruled by the first 2000 people listed in the Boston Telephone book than 2000 professors from Harvard University.
In their pride the learned think their plan is better than God’s. They want to replace what they deem is imperfect, but with what? The Black Lives Matter website explicitly states they intend to “disrupt”—that is the word they use—the Western prescribed nuclear family structure, the traditional family. One of the three women founders states explicitly that they are well trained Marxists. Look at their website. Something more is afoot than justice for blacks.
“Little ones” the humble ones, easily see the contradictions in the actions of the proud. You must socially distance yourself and wear a mask unless you are protesting. You must topple down statues you know nothing about. Innocent lives matter but not the innocent lives of police killed in the line of duty. Black lives matter except for the unborn. Hollywood objectifies women in movies and then complains when women are objectified by men. Churches had to close during the pandemic, but abortion centers remained open. Remove the beam from your own eye before you try to take the speck out of another’s eye, Jesus told us.
Those who founded America were not all practicing Christians, but humbly they all respected Christianity because they saw how useful it was for democracy. It made people governable. Common sense told them that is the only way democracy can work.
George Washington, who had slaves, nevertheless, spoke in his Farewell Address to his cabinet in 1796 about religion. “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports…let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion…reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.”
Today’s geniuses have thrown that baby out with the bath water too. The violence, vandalism, and worse of some groups make up more and more of our daily news. Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King insisted on nonviolence in the pursuit of civil rights.
The cultural understanding of liberty today is enshrined in moral relativism, another product of the “learned and the clever.” They teach that there are no absolute truths– only the truths embraced by the individual who claims he should be free to do as he pleases– supposedly without causing harm to others down the road. This is the ultimate pride: making ourselves God, deciding what is right and wrong. There are too many, however, that cannot even see farther than their noses let alone down the road. And few look back at the truths of human nature taught by history / behind their noses / that destine them to repeat the same mistakes. Moral relativism is destroying the foundations of a just society.
Individual rights must always be in service of the good and just. Freedom is the right to do what we ought to do. Today the stigma and shame of doing something that we ought not to do is being replaced by “the learned and clever” idea of “inclusion” and “diversity” and “political correctness.” If you want a laugh, read how Harry Truman defined political correctness for General MacArthur.
Let us never think that the proud will claim the victory. Christ said: “Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they will be satisfied. Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven.”
Fr. H. James “Jim” Hutchins – retired pastor but still very active as chaplain of Catholic men’s retreats