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  • Writer's pictureImmersed in Christ

What Needs to be "Saved"?"

Tuesday, February 14, 2023

by Fr. David M. Knight


View readings for today:


Editor's note: Father Knight had many talents. Unfortunately, computer file management was not one of those talents. Thus, I have so far been unable to locate Fr. Knight's reflections on the daily readings from today until Feb 22 (Ash Wednesday). Consequently, starting today, I will post selections from The Five Promises of Baptism on weekdays. (Full copies of the booklet are available here.) On Sundays, I will post reflections on the Mass readings -- if I can find those files! Pray for me! ~~ Lynne Marie


Everything in human life tends to "veer off" to destructiveness and distortion. Or to mediocrity. Or to just plain meaninglessness. Why is this?


It is not because people are inherently "bad." It is because all human beings live in imperfect cultures. There is no human society that has not been infected by false attitudes, values, and priorities. No culture that does not implant in its members inclinations, fears, and inhibitions that have a negative influence on behavior.


Every human action puts something into the cultural environment that never goes away. Every expression of attitude influences in some way the attitudes of others. Every affirmation or denial of value lived out in action has an effect on the values of others. This is a fact of life, a fact of human nature. Humans are built to live in society, and in every society they affect and form one another. For better and for worse. This is "cultural conditioning." All human beings are "programmed" to a greater or lesser degree by the society they live in. We are all caught up to some extent in the currents of our culture. We are constantly being nudged off course by distortions of truth toward behavior that is destructive.


In its negative influence this programming is the result of "Original Sin:' From the first sin ever committed in the human race, individuals have continued to think up and put into action new "original sins:' new and original ways to mess up human life on earth (and some that are not so original).


When enough people imitate a given behavior, adopting for themselves the attitude or value it expresses, that way of thinking and acting becomes characteristic of the "culture." Then it begins to be absorbed by others unthinkingly. Once it is perceived as what "everybody" thinks or "everybody" does, it tends to be taken for granted. It is accepted uncritically as true, good, and desirable.


In part this is because, in spite of all protestations to the contrary, very few people have the confidence or the desire to be "different" from everybody else. We feel more secure following the crowd. We don't like to take the risk of making personal judgments. So we just "go along."

The whole country has been devastated and no one takes it to heart. From one end of the country to the other, there is no peace for any living thing. (see Jeremiah 12:11-12)


When Christ's words fall on the "beaten path" of culture, they don't make any impression. They don't even penetrate:


"A sower went out to sow his seed; and as he sowed, some fell on the path and was trampled on, and the birds of the air ate it up." (See Luke 8:5)


Has infection by the culture affected your life or the lives of people you know? How many beautiful relationships of love have you seen turn destructive and end in hostility and alienation? How many people have begun careers with the highest ideals and ended up as disillusioned, burned-out time-servers? Or cold-hearted self-servers? How many distorted attitudes and values are diminishing family life, social life, church life, business, and political life?


How many people settle for mediocrity and mediocre joy in life because they have come to accept that this is "just the way it is" and realistically all it can be? How many have "come to terms" with life and decided to settle for less?


Where does Jesus fit into this picture? What kind of "Savior" is he? Does he just save us "out of,, this world without being able to save us in it? Is he only able to "get us to heaven,, at the end of our lives, but unable to save our lives on this earth from veering off to destructiveness and distortion, mediocrity and meaninglessness?

Did he come to save us or just to salvage us?


When Jesus said, "I came that they might have life and have it to the full!" did he mean here? Or only hereafter?


A MOMENT OF TRUTH

At this point we are invited to a crucial act of faith. One not to be taken for granted. Do you believe that Jesus Christ can save your life on this earth from everything in it that is destructive or distorted? Or just mediocre?

Your own life. Your real life. Your home life, school and social life. What you do and experience on the job. Or in church.


Do you believe, really believe, that by giving Jesus an active part in your life, by making him a part of everything you do, involving him in it, interacting with him all day long, you can "save" every area and activity of your life from veering off toward destructiveness and distortion, mediocrity and meaninglessness? That you can make it beautiful, joyful, and fulfilling? Do you believe Jesus can actually "save" your real life? And save it here as well as hereafter?


Be real. Do you believe this? Think about what your family life really is; your social life, business life, religious life, civic life. Do you really believe Jesus can make these everything you want them to be? Or close to it? If you do believe he can, what are you doing that shows you believe it?


You might say, "I pray." And that is a good answer, a necessary answer. But it is not a sufficient answer.


Reflections brought to you by the Immersed in Christ Ministry

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