We live in times of great ingenuity. We have a lot of clever smarts. We have been to the moon and back. Our computers never cease to amaze, as we make them smaller and more powerful. We peer to outer space and see further than ever. And then we look ever deeper into inner space, doing microsurgery and studying the human genome.
And yet, though technological giants, we are moral midgets. Though able to solve enormous technical problems, we cannot even figure how to stay faithful to our commitments, or keep our families together.Churches which once dominated our skylines are now dwarfed by buildings dedicated to banking, insurance and other passing worldly affairs.
Our houses with the great room, cathedral ceilings, and granite counter tops rise as monuments to our wealth and skill. But inside, these houses are not homes, and they are often filled with divisions, divorce and sterility.
For all our wealth there is little wisdom, for all our power there is little prudence.
From any eternal perspective our smarts amount to the building of sand castles that are sure to wash away. They cannot ultimately stand any more than we.
Scripture warns of the human tendency to maximize the minimum and minimize the maximum. We are smart, but about the wrong things, ultimately. Our priorities are wrong:
- “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel. (Matt 23:22-24)
- “But God said to [the rich man who built barns], ‘You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?’ “So is the man who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich in what matters to God. (Luke 12:20-21)
- For the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light. (Lk 16:8)
- For everyone looks out for their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. (Phil 2:21)
- But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people. (2 Tim 3:1-5)
- How prosperous Israel is— a luxuriant vine loaded with fruit. But the richer the people get, the more pagan altars they build. The more bountiful their harvests, the more elaborate their pagan pillars. Their heart is false; now they must bear their guilt. The LORD will break down their altars and destroy their pillars. (Hosea 10:1-2)
- A discerning person keeps wisdom in view, but a fool’s eyes wander to the ends of the earth. (Proverbs 17:24)
- They are ingenious in their wickedness. (Romans 1:30)
In other words, we human beings tend to get smartest about the least important things, and are foolishly forgetful about the things that matter most and eternally. Yes, we maximize the minimum, and minimize the maximum. There are some who know everything there is to know about the game of football, or who is who in Hollywood and politics, but are at a loss when it comes to the most basic spiritual concepts, biblical stories or moral teachings. Hours are given over to football, T.V. and politics, but there is no time to pray.
Well you get the point. We are smart, but about the wrong or passing things. Meanwhile we remain foolishly out of touch of the things that matter to God and which last unto life eternal.
Somehow I thought of this when the following commercial appeared in my YouTube queue. It illustrates our capacity to be ingenious about things that don’t matter. It features men that know everything about beer and have developed every talent imaginable about it.
To be sure, I have nothing against beer in moderation. But allow the beer to represent this world. And thus we see humorously illustrated our tendency and capacity to become VERY talented in so far as worldly things go. But at the end of the day, its just beer, its just the world, a world that is passing away.
Are we as talented and ingenious about spiritual things?
13 Replies to “Ingenious in passing things, and foolish in eternal things, as seen on T.V.”
In a discussion over religion with one successful businessman, he finally said to me, “I’m doing just fine on my own, I don’t need God.” That pretty much solved the mystery (for me anyway) as to the erroneous thinking of someone, anyone who would reject God. I did try to explain to him that the future is always uncertain regarding our “success” (that our treasure is in heaven) but it did not seem to phase him, at least at the moment.
And that picture of St. Patrick’s… I’ve walked off the busy noisy streets of N.Y. into that oasis of the Holy Catholic Church. From the smell of exhaust fumes to the fragrance of incense, from the glaring neon lighting to the gentle flicker of devotional candles, from harsh concrete and steel to the thoughtful glow of stained glass… on and on the contrast can not go unnoticed.
Funny commercial but I prefer Molson Canadian
Thank you for your willingness to prophecy the truth. This is light from Light.
Funny commercial. Yes, the world is louder than (we) the church are & entertaining too!!!!
My response: I have volunteered to teach a catechism class at my parish – because it is up to the people who know the faith to evangelize the church. I will not take credit for “knowing” what many in the “world” don’t know. The spirit blows where it will and He has drawn me to him, I am not the best messenger, but there are not as many as when I was young. Please say a little prayer for me & thank you for your posts, they always inspire me.
Decades ago, my brother sent me a postcard from NY City with a picture of that cathedral on it. It was one of the reasons that I came back to the Catholic Church. Then, he left the Catholic Church. Funny commercial; good post.
The old saying , “Go for the gusto” applies. As our old parish priest would say. If your in the world, and of the world, you had better get all you can out of it, because the world is coming to an end. And you’ll come to an end with it. Thanks for the reminder to store up treasure in Heaven!
Please check this one, many thanks.
A good book to keep one focused on the eternal things is Preparation for Death by St. Alphonsus, which is most suitable for a person of any age. A catechist in Africa used it in his classes, and it bore much fruit. The advantages in this work and in all the writings of this Doctor of the Church is that the texts are easy to understand and that the sections are short. By the way, St. Alphonsus has had more editions of his writings published than anyone in history.
Monsignor Pope, thank you for taking the time to write this. It reminded me just how important it is to know more about my loved ones. More fruit comes from living this blessed vocation God gave me, instead of being consumed with things of the world. Thank you and God Bless!
I always hear fools saying that’s better to be healthy than rich, or that it’s better to have a family that loves you than to be rich. These fools are missing a key component in their formulas, Christ. Without Christ in their hearts, people that say this are empty vessels and may actually have deep desires for wealth, or may harbor jealousy and evil inside. There are historical truths in what I am saying and in recent history such people have been responsible for great violence and acts of revenge. Here are a couple of historical events; the French Revolution and the guillotine, Lenin and the Russian revolution, and how about Hitler and the Holocaust. These were all acts of revenge by Godless or Christless beings. What you say is the truth and we must keep Christ in the equation.
As Mafalfda, the popular and sound Argentinian cómic character says: urgent things never let time for the important ones.
Has anyone read THE HARBINGER ??? This summer I was given this book . WOW ! It was written by a Jewish rabbi who has converted to Christianity and .is based on prophecies about Israel in the Old Testament …. If anyone has read it I’d like to hear your take on it …..
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