Way back in 1970, as the teachings of the Second Vatican Council were just gaining traction, representatives from all the world’s major religions including a delegation from the Vatican met in Kyoto, Japan for what was billed as the World Conference of Religions for Peace.
The Conference concluded with a resolution called “the Universal Basic Ethic” comprised of commonly held beliefs, including the value of human community; a recognition that might does not make right; that human power is neither self-sufficient nor absolute…
That love, compassion, selflessness & truth trump hate, enmity, & self-interest; an obligation to defend the poor/oppressed a profound hope that good will ultimately triumph over evil.
Sound familiar? It should! These truths are embodied in the very Gospel we just heard! Indeed, anyone who believes in Jesus & claims to be His follower has the duty to integrate them in their manner of living, as they are the very heart & soul of what Jesus taught the crowds that gathered to listen to Him.
Nowhere is this ethic more evident than in the institution of marriage, which lies at the foundation of human civilization from its beginnings. Yet, this institution has suffered greatly from a rejection of this Universal Ethic by influential social & political elites and all who take their cues from them.
Look at the popularity of certain so-called “reality” shows like the Bachelor & the Bachelorette which have made a mockery of real interpersonal relationship and marriage, reducing them to a game played by the most prefabricated plastic people on God’s good earth!
Much of modern civilization has replaced the Divine with a new god, the self, whose creed is “I am the center of the universe, the sole judge of right and wrong. I can do anything I damn well please and if you don’t like it that’s just too bad.
“If your feelings get hurt, if your body gets hurt, if your loved one gets hurt, so what? All that matters is that I get what I want. The end justifies the means.”
Marriage is one of this creed’s many victims. Those who might’ve stuck it out at one time now race to the divorce court, despite the tremendous pain and upheaval, not to mention hefty price tag, that come with it.
Those who do try to keep it together are often met with such indifference and even hostility that they see no choice other than to give up. Others are so badly abused, physically, psychologically, and emotionally that they have to give up or lose their health, sanity, and sometimes even their lives.
Responsibility is a dirty word to adherents of this creed. “Nothing is ever my fault; it’s always the other’s. Blame my burned thighs on McD’s for serving coffee that’s too hot… Not my own stupidity for trying to drive a car with the cup between my legs!
How did it get this way? Ask any teacher, they’ll tell you. If someone’s little darling doesn’t get an A, Little Darling’s mommy or daddy goes nuclear on the teacher instead of connecting the dots to Little Darling who lost 2 weeks of school because mommy and daddy just HAD to take Little Darling to Disney World in the middle of the school year!
God help the teacher who reprimands Little Darling for misbehavior! Little Darling would never do that!
And what does L.D. learn from that? That nothing’s ever their fault, it’s always someone else’s; and that mommy and daddy are going to fight their battles…until they can’t.
Then what happens? L.D. is all grown up now and can’t face life’s inevitable adversities because they never learned how! So many of our young people today are so lost and filled with despair for just this reason, and others like it!
Thank God for all the married couples who maintain their fidelity to each other through thick and thin, and for all the parents who aren’t afraid to say no once in a while; who teach responsibility to their children first and foremost by modeling it themselves.
Thank God for occasions like a World Conference of Religions for Peace and the communities that comprise them that struggle to speak truth to a world that often responds like the 3 little monkeys: See-No-Evil, Hear-No-Evil, Speak-No-Evil!
Communities that are ripped open and disemboweled when we steadfastly insist on Divine truths like the indissolubility of marriage and the inviolability of human life in the womb and outside it.
We have to expect a violent reaction from those quarters who make a lot of money on these things; who expect us all to dance to their tune of selfish, self-centered self-interest; who demand that all worship at the altar of the almighty ME.
May this and every Eucharist strengthen us to maintain our fidelity to the truth that has been handed on to us from none other than Jesus Himself, God-in-the-flesh, and the mission He has handed on to us to proclaim that truth and live it to the best of our ability.
Because if we give up, then the vacuum will continue to be filled by egomaniacs on the airwaves and all over the ‘net. Who then will speak what the Lord of the Universal Basic Ethic wants His children of every age to know, embrace, proclaim, and live?
The Prophet Jeremiah warns us to “put no trust in human flesh,” for the flesh is weak. It wants what it wants…
And yet no matter how much it gets it always, always, always wants more, and more, and more. It’s never satisfied. Like the old Roman proverb, it’s like drinking sea water: the more a person drinks, the thirstier they become.
Rather, may this and every Eucharist strengthen us to follow St. Paul’s advice to put our trust squarely in Christ, who rose from the dead and shares this life, this victory with all who are united to Him in this Universal Ethic.
Only an absolute fool would do otherwise. Unfortunately, we’re surrounded by many. May we never be counted among them.
God bless you!