From the Pastor:
One of the news headlines this past week was, “In a world where might determines right, the innocent aren’t spared.” The news article was written in response to the killing of Israeli citizens by the Hamas terrorists. Especially disturbing in the Palestinian terror attack was the unarmed women and children who were shot without mercy or hesitation. In the same editorial article, the reader is reminded that mayhem and injustice prevail when the “baser instincts of human nature and murderous ambition are left unchecked by civilized” people.” (WSJ, Oct. 9, 2023)
The “baser instincts” of people are urges or behaviors that they experience at the deepest level of themselves. They can be morally good, bad, or indifferent. Everyone experiences these urges, of which a few examples are food, anger, comfort, sex, etc. The question isn’t whether we will experience these urges or other similar ones, but rather whether they will control us? Adam and Eve chose to turn from God because they didn’t check their curiosity before it developed into pride. Cain murdered his brother Abel because he allowed his envy to grow into anger.
It’s a brutal, unforgiving world whenever the dominant principle is “might makes right”. The victims are the innocent and those without a voice. The war in the Holy Land reminds us of that as does the death of the disabled person by euthanasia, babies “terminated” in the womb because of the “rights” of mothers, and women enslaved into the sex trafficking industry. The law of “might makes right” is sadly alive. Lust, pleasure, and greed are dangerous and destructive when left unchecked. In all this the Church urges man to justice and freedom, for the benefit of all.
Interestingly, after Cain murders his brother, God asks him a simple question that is self-reflective and meant to help him: “Where are you?” The question for Cain isn’t geographical but moral and social. God wanted Cain to think about what his action did to himself. His action did not bring him closer to God and others. What did he see when he closed his eyes at night? Do anger, greed, lust, jealousy, sloth or whatever sin make us feel better about ourselves and more loving toward others? God offers hope by reminding Cain that “sin is a demon lurking at your door, its urge is for you but you can be its master.”
In light of the suffering and difficulties that we see throughout the world, and personally experience at times, isn’t it worth revisiting God’s instructions to us? Each of God’s teachings is meant to prevent us from misusing our freedom in ways that bring evil into the world. Overcoming “might makes right” requires us to act according to virtue and morality instead of pride and pleasure. History repeatedly attests to this.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC 2339-2340) beautifully states: “Either man governs his passions and finds peace, or he lets himself be dominated by them and becomes unhappy.” We resist temptation and overcome slavery to our passions by self-knowledge, penance, obedience to God's commandments, and daily prayer.