Archive for the ‘Consumerism’ Category

The First Principle and Foundation

July 31, 2014

Man is created to praise, reverence, and serve God our Lord, and by this means to save his soul.

And the other things on the face of the earth are created for man and that they may help him in prosecuting the end for which he is created.

From this it follows that man is to use them as much as they help him on to his end, and ought to rid himself of them so far as they hinder him as to it.

For this it is necessary to make ourselves indifferent to all created things in all that is allowed to the choice of our free will and is not prohibited to it; so that, on our part, we want not health rather than sickness, riches rather than poverty, honor rather than dishonor, long rather than short life, and so in all the rest; desiring and choosing only what is most conducive for us to the end for which we are created.

-St. Ignatius of Loyola, Spiritual Exercises #23

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Tempting Christ — 1st Sunday of Lent—Year C

March 3, 2013

Today’s Gospel from Luke is preceded by Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan. There, Jesus is revealed to be the Anointed One awaited by God’s people. The Anointed One is called the Messiah in Hebrew and the Christ in Greek. It was foretold that the “Anointed One” would have God as his Father in a unique and intimate way. This “Anointed One” was prophesied to come and be the savior, the champion, and the liberator of God’s people.

“Filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the desert for forty days…” Here, before the start of the public ministry of Jesus, in the silence and solitude of this desert retreat, the thoughts and prayers of Jesus were probably about his mission ahead. At this time the devil comes to tempt him. The devil wants to influence the kind of Christ that Jesus will be in hopes of derailing his mission from the start.

The devil says, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” And Jesus answers, “One does not live on bread alone.” What would be the evil in Jesus making this food? If he uses his power to meet his own needs, then the devil will ask “How can you refuse the needs of other people?” The devil wants Jesus to become an economic savior, a materialistic Messiah.

Jesus has compassion for our human condition–he knows it from his own first-hand experience. Jesus commands us to show his love to others by caring for their bodily needs. And when we do this it is Jesus acting through us. But if Jesus’ first mission had become to satisfy all material human needs, then Jesus would have been a Christ of bread alone, and we cannot live forever on bread alone. Making all of us wealthy wouldn’t be enough to make us holy, and so Jesus refuses the first temptation.

Then the devil shows Jesus all the kingdoms of the world and says, “I shall give to you all the power and glory…. All this will be yours, if you worship me.” And Jesus answers, “You shall worship the Lord, your God, and him alone shall you serve.” The devil offers Jesus an alternative to a life of obedience to his Father and in service to all. Jesus can become the world’s dictator whose own will must be done, if he would simply worship the devil.

This is the devil’s promise, but the devil is a liar. Making a deal with him gains nothing but loss, yet even if Jesus knew the devil would keep his word Jesus would have none of this. Jesus does not come to control us, but to invite us. He does not want to dominate us, but to persuade us to love. God seeks our loving response, and a response in love cannot be forced, so Jesus rejects the second temptation.

Then the devil takes Jesus to a high place and says, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for God will command his angels to guard you, and with their hands they will support you….” And Jesus answers, “You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.”

Here the devil argues that Jesus should expect to be protected from suffering and be preserved from death. But Jesus was sent and came to die and rise for us. Without these things how would we have been saved? Jesus trusted the Father’s will, even in suffering and death, and so Jesus refuses the third temptation.

God often works in ways that we wouldn’t imagine or choose for ourselves. We would wish that everything in life would be easy and painless. We wish our temptations and sorrows did not afflict us. But a doctor’s cure is given according to the disease he finds. After the Fall of mankind, God intends to save us through the difficulties and struggles of this life.

Our growth in holiness can be slow and our sufferings may be difficult. However, we should never despair. Our struggle has rewards and our suffering has purpose. We know this because of Jesus, who endured temptations just like us and for us.

El evangelio de hoy es precedido por el bautismo de Jesús en el Jordán. Allí, Jesús se revela como el Ungido esperado por el pueblo de Dios. El ungido es llamado el Mesías en hebreo y Cristo en griego. Fue predicho que “el ungido” sería tener a Dios como su Padre de una manera única e íntima. Este “Ungido” fue profetizado ser el salvador, el campeón, y el libertador del pueblo de Dios.

“Llenos del Espíritu Santo, Jesús volvió del Jordán y fue llevado por el Espíritu al desierto por cuarenta días…” Aquí antes del inicio del ministerio público de Jesús, en el silencio y la soledad de este retiro desierto, los pensamientos y las oraciones de Jesús fueron probablemente sobre su misión por delante. Entonces, el diablo viene a tentarle. El diablo quiere influir en el tipo de Cristo que Jesús va a ser, con la esperanza de desbaratar su misión desde el principio.

El diablo dice: “Si eres Hijo de Dios, di a esta piedra que se convierta en pan”. Y Jesús responde: “El hombre no vive solamente de pan”. ¿Cuál sería el mal en la fabricación de este alimento? Si Jesús usa su poder para satisfacer sus propias necesidades, entonces el diablo le preguntará “¿Cómo puedes negar las necesidades de otras personas?” El diablo quiere Jesús para convertirse en un salvador económico, un Mesías materialista.

Jesús tiene compasión por la condición humana y él lo sabe por su propia experiencia. Jesús nos manda a mostrar su amor a los demás por el cuidado de sus necesidades corporales. Y cuando hacemos esto, Jesús está actuando a través de nosotros. Pero si la primera misión de Jesús había sido la de satisfacer todas las necesidades materiales humanas, entonces Jesús habría sido un Cristo de pan solamente, y no podemos vivir para siempre en el pan solo. Haciendo todos nosotros ricos no sería suficiente para hacernos santos, y así Jesús rechaza la primera tentación.

Entonces el diablo muestra a Jesús todos los reinos del mundo y le dice: “Yo te daré todo el poder y la gloria …. Todo esto será tuyo, si me adoras. “Y Jesús responde:” Adorarás al Señor, tu Dios, ya él solo servirás “. El diablo ofrece a Jesús una alternativa a una vida de obediencia a su Padre y servicio de todos. Jesús puede convertirse en dictador del mundo, cuya propia voluntad se debe hacer.

Esta es la promesa del diablo, pero el diablo es un mentiroso. Haciendo un trato con él no gana nada sino pérdida, sin embargo, incluso si Jesús sabía que el diablo cumpliría su palabra de Jesús no quiso saber nada de esto. Jesús no viene a controlarnos, sino para invitarnos. Él no quiere que nos dominen, sino para persuadir al amor. Dios busca nuestra respuesta de amor y una respuesta en el amor no puede ser forzado, y así Jesús rechaza la tentación segundo.

Entonces el diablo lleva a Jesús a un lugar alto y le dice: “Si eres Hijo de Dios, arrójate desde aquí, porque Dios mandará a sus ángeles para que te guarden, y con sus manos te apoyan….” Y Jesús responde, “No tentarás al Señor, tu Dios.”

Aquí el diablo argumenta que Jesús debe esperar a ser protegido de el sufrimiento y ser preservado de la muerte. Pero Jesús fue enviado y vino a morir y resucitar por nosotros. Sin estas cosas, ¿cómo hemos sido salvados? Jesús confió la voluntad del Padre, incluso en el sufrimiento y la muerte, y así Jesús se niega la tercera tentación.

A menudo Dios obra de maneras que no nos imaginamos o elegir por nosotros mismos. Nos gustaría que todo en la vida iba a ser fácil y sin dolor. Queremos nuestras tentaciones y sufrimientos no nos afligen. Pero la curación de un médico se administra de acuerdo a la enfermedad que encuentra. Después de la caída del hombre, Dios quiere salvarnos a través de las dificultades y las luchas de esta vida.

Nuestro crecimiento en la santidad puede ser lento y nuestro sufrimiento puede ser difícil. Sin embargo, nunca debe desesperarse. Nuestra lucha tiene recompensas y nuestro sufrimiento tiene un propósito. Lo sabemos gracias a Jesús, que sufrió tentaciones como nosotros y por nosotros.

The Rich Fool — 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time—Year C

August 12, 2010

I regret to inform you that you are going to die. Perhaps not today, but someday, and it could be very soon. We should ask ourselves, “Am I ready? How can I prepare?”

The Gospel relates the story of a man who was not ready, a man God calls a “fool.” Jesus offers Him as an anti-role model; a person whose example we should learn from, but not imitate. Yes, he is a fool for hoarding his possessions. The old saying is true, “You can’t take it with you.” But there are more subtle lessons we can learn from his bad example. This morning I would like to present three things this rich man has to teach us:

The first lesson comes from what he does when his land produces a bountiful harvest. He asks himself, “What shall I do?” There is nothing wrong with this question in itself, but he is a fool in the way he asks it. The rich man asks himself, and only himself, “What shall I do?” He does not consult with God, in either his conscience or in prayer, to learn what His will is.

What is the lesson here for us?  Let us remember to listen to the Lord as He speaks in our conscience, through prayer, the Scriptures, and the people He has placed in our lives. We should listen for God’s direction every day, and throughout each day.

A second cautionary lesson is found in the rich man’s plan for solving his storage problem. He says, “This is what I shall do: I shall tear down my barns and build larger ones.” What was wrong with the older barns? They were not large enough to hold everything, but why tear them down? The rich man has plenty of land. Why did he want to replace his perfectly good barns?

Vanity of vanities, he wanted his storehouses to be the newest, the biggest, and the best. Though the rich man was not very concerned about other people, he was very concerned about their high opinion of him. Even in those days, people were tempted to consumerism.

Consumerism seems to consist in two phantom promises: that having just a little more will truly give me lasting happiness, and that others will regard, accept, and love me when they notice the things that I have. These are phantom promises, for as soon as one reaches to grasp them they prove empty, illusory, receding further out of reach.

The fact is that the people who are happiest in life are not the wealthiest. (By that measure, pretty much every American should be among the happiest people in the world.) The happiest people tend to be those who share the most or give the most away. The person who recognizes they have enough, that life does not consist in possessions, is content and secure enough to share. Some people try to get the most out of life as possible, but what we appreciate most in our lives is the ways in which we have given of ourselves for others.

Our third cautionary lesson is heard in God’s rebuke of the man: “You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you; and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?” When we think of the things the rich man has prepared, we think of his harvest and goods.  One of the things he has ill-prepared… is his soul, which this night will be demanded of him. And now, to whom will it belong?

The lesson here for us?  As focused as we are upon our possessions, we must be more attentive to our souls. Someday, we are going to die. In the meantime, then, let us put to death, the parts of you that are earthly, as St. Paul said: immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and the greed that is idolatry.

What lessons does the rich man teach us? Reject the false promises of the consumer cult, for life does not consist in possessions. (Self-gift is the meaning of life) Turn your heart to your spiritual well-being, for your life and this world shall pass away.  And to frequently ask Jesus, everyday, “What shall I do?” Let us begin today, before it is too late for us to begin living wisely.

A Mystery Revealed — Trinity Sunday

June 2, 2010

You may recall my mention of one of my favorite professors at seminary, Dr.  Perry Cahall. And I remember him telling us one day in class, “If, someday when you’re a priest, I hear that you got into the pulpit on Trinity Sunday and tell the people, ‘You know, the Trinity is a mystery, and so there’s really nothing we can know or say about it…’ I will hunt you down like the dogs you are.” This is my first homily on Trinity Sunday, and I’m going to make sure I give Dr. Cahall no reason to come after me.

The Trinity is a mystery, but that doesn’t men we know nothing or can say nothing about this central mystery of our Faith. In Catholic theology, a “mystery” is not something which is unknowable to us, it is just something which our human reason could not have discovered on its own.

Imagine if you came upon a sophisticated and well-written mystery novel. It’s so good that you can’t put it down. But as you get towards the end, you discover that the last couple chapters of the book are missing. You noticed some clues as the story unfolded, but without those last pages you can’t figure out the identity of the one “who did it.” You might try to find the ending in another copy of the book, but what if no other copies existed and no one had ever read the ending before? Your only hope would be to speak with the author. The author could tell you the rest of the story. The author could unveil the mystery for you and reveal the identity of the one “who did it.” Like that in sophisticated mystery novel, our God has placed clues throughout creation and His Old Testament interactions with His People. Yet, it was not until the coming of Jesus that the “who done it” was plainly revealed: God, the Author of the universe, is Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Today I would like to talk about some common questions people have about the Trinity. For instance, how is God both one and three, and then what difference does the Trinity make?

Some people have trouble with the concept of the Trinity because they think it is the claim that “one equals three” in God. However, this is not what we believe about the Trinity. The number one does not equal the number three, not in God or anywhere else, and not even the omnipotent power of God can make a logical contradiction true.

We believe one God, comprised of three divine persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. God is one What, as three Who’s. There is one divine nature, but three divine knowers, three divine willers, and three divine actors. We do not believe in three anonymous forces, but three loving persons. There is no God apart from or beyond these three persons.

Now the Father is not Jesus Christ. Jesus is not the Holy Spirit. And the Spirit is not our Father. They are distinct persons. Yet, at the same time, each possesses the fullness of the divinity: perfect goodness, infinite beauty, perfect knowledge, infinite power, perfect mercy, and infinite love. We do not worship three gods, but three eternal persons who comprise one God.

The belief in the oneness of God was firmly instilled into the Jewish people. This conviction helped to keep Israel from falling into the worship of false gods and experiencing all of the evils that brings. For instance, Israel’s Canaanite neighbors were idolaters, who worshiped mere objects as gods that could make them happy. They practiced child sacrifice, killing their own children in hopes of receiving greater blessings in this life from the gods. And they had temple prostitution, in which promiscuous sexuality was as hailed as sacred.

Notice how our society has become more and more like those pagans as it has drifted from belief in the one true God. Our worship of objects which we think can make us happy is called materialism, or consumerism. Our human sacrifice, done in hopes of greater blessings in this life, is called abortion. And some have raised up sexual promiscuity as the way of greatest freedom and happiness.

The Jews were spared all of these evils so long as they clung to their conviction that “All gods are not the same, and we are to worship only one.” The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Even to this day, observant Jews pray a prayer twice daily called the “Shema Yisrael,” from a passage in Deuteronomy:

“Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one!  Therefore, you shall love the LORD, your God, with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength.”

Jews remain Jews today because they do not believe that Jesus is the promised messiah, or the Christ, the one for whom they have been waiting. Sometimes they criticize Christians saying we are not really monotheists, but polytheists, who believe in three gods: “The LORD is our God, the LORD is one!”

Yet, revealingly, the word that God inspired in this Old Testament passage (“The Lord is one”) is not one of the words in Hebrew which always means numerical and solitary oneness (such as “yachid” or “bad”.)  Instead, the Holy Spirit selected a word which usually means a unified oneness: “echad.” This word (“echad”) is the same word used in Genesis, where God says of man and woman, “the two shall become one flesh.” In their union, the persons are as one being. And recall, God had said, “Let us make man in our image , after our likeness. …[And] God created man in his image; in the divine image he created him; male and female he created them.” When husband and wife become a unified one, as one couple, in time, they are in the image and likeness of the Father, Son, and Spirit, who have are a unified one, as one God, eternally.

So what difference does the reality of the Trinity make for our lives? The Trinity shows us that God is not a solitary individual, isolated and alone. God is a loving communion of persons. This is the reality we come from, and this is the reality we are called to, in this life and the next.

In our post-modern age, some people talk about “the meaning of life” as if it were some kind of joke, or an unsolvable mystery beyond our capacity to discover or know. But we Christians believe we know the meaning of life, for it has been revealed to us. The meaning of life is the loving communion of persons. The loving communion of persons is what gives our lives meaning and it will be our primary delight forever in Heaven. Love is the reality we come from, and the reality we are called to.

‘Hear, O Church of God! The LORD is our God, the LORD is a unified one!  Therefore, you shall love the LORD, your God, with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength.’ Love the Lord your God, who is Father, Son, and Spirit, and become like the God you love.

‘Tis Better to Give — Tuesday After Epiphany

January 5, 2010

(The Micro Machines Aircraft Carrier – Not the Summum Bonum)

When I was a kid, in preparation for Christmas, I remember how my sisters and I would explore those big Sears and J.C. Pennies catalogues and circle the things we really wanted. I also remember the intensity of my excitement when I would open my presents to discover the toys that I had dreamed about. But over the years, I saw a pattern develop that maybe you’ve begun to start noticing for yourself.

Christmas after Christmas, I would play with all my toys, but I discovered that I would never get as much happiness from as I had imagined they would give me when they were still in their boxes. No Christmas toy ever delivered the supreme happiness I had hoped for from them. I was blessed through these experiences to learn a very valuable lesson. I learned that that getting stuff would not and could not complete me—it couldn’t make me truly happy.

Stuff won’t make you truly happy, but there are lots of people who don’t know this. Why do you think it is that TV and advertisers are always going after that “target demographic” of 18 to 34 year-olds, especially that younger segment of 18 to 24 year-olds? It’s because these consumers have significant amounts of disposable income, perhaps for the first time in their lives. And, since they do not have the wisdom of years, many of them can still be fooled into thinking that this or that product will really make them as happy as advertised.

Don’t let yourself be fooled into taking that bait. Keep in mind the words Jesus who said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 2:35). It’s really about giving that I want to speak to you today. There are many ways that we can give of ourselves, of our time, talent and treasure, but this morning I want to address the importance and blessedness of giving from our incredible wealth.

Now I doubt that you would describe yourself as a rich person. In terms of our society, you’re probably not. But realize, that when compared to the rest of the world, you are a very wealthy individual. Did you know that about half of the people in the world live on less than $2.50 a day?

From our great material blessedness comes the great responsibility to share. Yet, the fact that we are far richer than many other people is really beside the point. Even if we were poor compared to everyone else, Jesus would still ask us to share of what we have. For whenever we give out of love, and a desire to spread and advance God’s kingdom, we imitate Jesus Himself, who gave of Himself to us first.

Maybe you feel like you have nothing much to give. The disciples thought they had next to nothing to give too, and they were right. They had just five loaves of bread and two fishes, but Jesus said to them, ‘Give the crowd some food yourselves.’ The disciples wondered what good so little could do for so many, but in Jesus’ hands their small gifts multiplied.  Their deed first feed thousands, and then, through its retelling in the Gospel, it feed untold millions.

It would be hubris, or foolish pride, for us to think that if only we had a million dollars, a billion dollars, a trillion dollars, or any sum, that we by ourselves could save the world. Yet, when we place what little we have into Christ’s hands, giving where and when the Holy Spirit prompts us, Jesus blesses it and our deed does more good within His kingdom than we realize.

Though you never fully see all of the good your giving causes on earth, you can immediately feel some of its goodness inside yourself. Part of the blessedness of charitable giving is in the joy you feel in always knowing that you have done a good deed. When you consume something you may enjoy it for a moment, but when you give something away in love you can enjoy that act forever. If fact, when we get to heaven, we should find ourselves made the instant friends of many strangers when it is revealed to us how our lives were profoundly connected through the smallest gifts.

To help in put our faith into practice, to love our neighbors and advance the Kingdom, we are going to begin taking more regular collections at our weekly school Masses in support various causes. We will be starting by helping a number of area organizations suggested by the Student Senate. And, once our Liturgy & Campus Ministry Committee is up and running, about which Mr. Zimmerman will be speaking to you about at the end of Mass, the selection of worthy charitable causes will one of the important tasks that will fall to them.

Today our collection will be going, in its entirety, to support the Hope Lodge here in Marshfield. The Hope Lodge provides temporary accommodations for patients and their family members while they are receiving cancer treatments at the Marshfield Clinic. Please give as generously as the Holy Spirit may prompt you and know that you will certainly be blessed.