DIGNITY AND RESPONSIBILITY OF BEING HUMAN
Fr Rodney Kissinger, S.J
Table of Contents
Laws are not obeyed in a vacuum. They are observed by real people in real, concrete situations, sometimes very complex situations. This particular moment, this concrete situation with all of its historical and cultural relationships has never happened before and it will never happen again.
This unique situation, however, is the will of God. Divine Providence is a fact. Nothing happens in this world by chance. It is either positively will by God or at least permitted by God. This unique situation may facilitate, hinder, or even make impossible the observance of the law. Time, for example, can be important. Driving down the freeway very early in the morning is quite different from driving down it during the peak hours of traffic from five to six in the evening. For a married couple, the time of the month can make the practice of abstinence easier or more difficult.
The place also is important. Is it a private or a public place? Is it in the courtroom or on the street? The other people involved in this situation, who are they? What are their values? Are they supportive or derisive? Are we obligated to them in any way? What is at stake in this situation? What would be the result of action or non-action? These are just a few of the circumstances that could effect the morality of this action.
We have seen that it is important to have a true image, concept of the human person. It is also important to have a true image, concept, of the world in which the person lives. The radical difference between the world and Jesus is one of the great themes of the Gospel. It is important to understand what Jesus meant by the world.
The world can be understood in two different senses. First of all, it can mean the physical universe which is our home into which we are born, and in which we work out our salvation. It supplies us with all the necessities we need to live. It also reveals a lot about God and his relation with us. This world speaks in exclamation points about God. “Every bush is burning.” God loves this world. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.” (John 3:16; Rom. 8: 18-19) This world will also participate in the victory of Christ.
Secondly, the world can mean the present situation in the world which is the result of sin and which is an enticement to sin. This is the world that is at enmity with God. This is the world over which Satan has dominion and which he uses, together with the flesh, to tempt us. This world hates Jesus and all that belongs to Him. “If the world hates you know that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, the world would love its own; but because you do not belong to the world, and I have chosen you out of the world, the world hates you.” (John 15: 18-19)
This world is the irreconcilable enemy of God. Its principles are diametrically opposed to the principles of Jesus. This is the world beamed to us day and night through the media which is constantly proclaiming the trinitarian god of “rugged individualism, hedonism and consumerism.” It promotes conspicuous consumption as a way of life, in which we buy what we don’t need, with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t like.
Think of your mind as a computer. Into this computer data from the media is fed for five hours a day. Then data from the Gospel is fed into it for one hour a week, or perhaps even less. What do you think will come out? The inexorable law of the computer is “garbage in, garbage out.”
Jesus said, “In the world you will have trouble, but take courage I have conquered the world.” (John 16: 33) And the disciples of Jesus will also conquer this world, “And the victory that conquers this world is our faith.” (1 John 5: 4)
GOOD MORAL IS GOOD MEDICINE
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