Spirituality for Today – January 2016 – Volume 20, Issue 6

A Pile of Junk

Rev. Raymond K. Petrucci

A photo of a pile of junk

"Follow him!" Throughout this month, the theme of the Gospel readings at Mass, usually through the declarations of John the Baptist, stress the need to follow Christ. "Come, follow me!" Beckoned to follow him, Jesus gathers a group of men around him. These "followers" were called to leave their secular vocations for the purpose of a sacred one. How overwhelming it must be to leave the tried and true for the mysterious and unpredictable. A motivation of the greatest magnitude must be present in one's total being in order to evoke such a decision. To this point, the parables of the Pearl of Great price and the Treasure Buried in the Field come to mind. The lamentable irony of doing the opposite in practice colors much of modern culture.

For some time, Pope Francis has warned about the perils of what he calls a "throwaway culture." Massacres, war, shootings, human trafficking, rape, and others forms of disregard and contempt for the value of human life fill our news media. Referring to how this culture affects families, the pope stated, "I think especially of the elderly, the handicapped and young people. The elderly encounter rejection when they are considered a burdensome presence, while the young are thrown way when they are denied concrete prospects of employment to build their future." In the words of the pope, "We must be wary of an individualistic and self-centered culture which severs human bonds." How many are the ways that we can mark the impression of this nefarious cultural trend on our society. [Source: L'Osservatore Romano]

Seeds borne on the winds of dissent some four decades ago have flowered, notions of freedom defined as self without other have characterized the evolution of societal trends to this day. Praise be to the Lord that there is a significant percentage that have navigated their way successfully through these murky waters, but there are far too many people whose lives are defined by an alienating, irresponsible, sociopathic force that leads their lives to destruction. There is something to be learned by the current capacity of large numbers of people to forge a successful professional life while managing to create a completely dysfunctional personal life. In many personal stories, conclusions might be reached that reflect a discarding of God, moral values, and ideas of absolute good and admirable.

If, as Herod, we fill our lives with things, and again with things; if we consider ourselves so unimportant that we must fill every moment of our lives with action, when will we have time to make the long, slow journey across the desert as did the Magi? Or sit and watch the stars as did the shepherds? Or brood over the coming of a Child as did Mary? For each of us, there is a desert to travel. A star to discover. And a being within ourselves to bring to life.

Author Unknown

There was a time when what was conceived to be right and wrong was centered on following the Commandments, Beatitudes, and the overall teachings of scripture and the Church. In this morally chaotic age, the lowest and most non–committal standards acquire respectability (Lord knows how!). Albeit simplistic, if virtue is not valued as applicable to all and infamy is not a source of shame and regret, society becomes a congregation of "loose-canons" and a nest of narcissistic ne'er-do-wells. Let it be soon that the good people of this age steadfastly and courageously stand for the noble and excellent qualities within the human spirit. In truth, the measure of the highest use of our rationality and the most effective application of our choices is forged by the recognition of the God-given worth and dignity of every human being and by the openness and devotion to the movement of God's grace within the experience of being human. There is nothing to be thrown away there.

Holiness in ordinary duties is the most heroic of adventures.

George Rutler

Faith, wisdom, love, compassion, brotherhood has been treated like a pile of junk instead of the cherished treasures of humanity that they are. No one wants to buy junk, why would anyone wish to be junk? The ultimate end of a throwaway culture is that the individual casts aside everything of worth within themselves. We are a people, I pray, who someday will listen to the call to follow the Way, the Truth, and the Life.