How the Virtual Eclipses the Real – As Seen in a Commercial

The word virtual has become, for most people, a euphemism for the Internet, or the computer world; as in “occurring or existing primarily online.”  But the word virtual has an original meaning that is actually quite descriptive of a modern problem.

Prior to its application to the computer world, the word virtual meant: being something in effect, though not actually or expressly being such. In other words, it has aspects of the real thing, but is not the real thing. So, in the sentence. He is a virtual goldmine of knowledge on the subject one would be silly to look for physical gold mine or to think that he is either gold or a mine, or both.  There is no actual, no physical, goldmine. Rather his knowledge has aspects of a gold mine (value, worth, depth) but he is not an actual goldmine.

The adverb, “virtually” means, for the most part, almost. In other words, it is close to the thing, but is not the thing or quality described. So in the sentence He was so exhausted, he was virtually dead; he is not, of course, actually dead but, rather shares in some of the qualities of the dead (unmoving, unconscious, lying down, etc). But he is not dead.

So virtual may mean “almost, like, or similar,” but NOT “is.” The virtual is not the full reality. It is lacking in existence and other important qualities of the actual reality.

And this is very important truth to recall in today’s “virtual” world of the Internet. Many people are substituting too much of the virtual for the actual. Many people spend more time interacting with Facebook friends than physically interacting with actual family members and friends. Many people digest large quantities of virtual Internet life, and only small amounts of real life. In an actual meeting with real people present, many will be seen to have their heads in their phone and be only vaguely present to the real meeting (see photo above right).

I have noticed some tourists here in DC so buried in their phones (perhaps studying about a particular monument), that they spend less time looking at the actual monument. Some fiddle so much to get the picture that they really miss the actual moment. A picture is not real (it is virtual, it shares aspects of the real thing but us not that thing). We spend a LOT of time with our eyes focused on a virtual world, and often neglect the real world among us.

A strange migration has happened for many today wherein we interact more “virtually” than really. As a result, old fashioned things like dating, marriage, meeting new people and just getting together with friends has declined.

Another problem with the virtual world is that it is, most often, self-defined. We select our favorite sites and bookmark them. We set Facebook filters, RSS feeds, twitter feeds, iPod playlists, and the like. In effect we create our own little virtual world. Meanwhile the real world with all its diversity and less desirable things is increasingly neglected and our world becomes smaller and our personal formation more stilted.

Even more so, our patience at listening and being a “captive audience” has declined and we are increasingly demanding that everything should appeal to us quickly. Otherwise I should be able to click on a new bookmark, change the channel, of skip to the next song in the shuffle. But the real world is not quite so accommodating. Patiently listening and working with what “is” seems more odious as we start to prefer the virtual to the real.

Well, let the following video make the point. Enjoy a humorous look at our obsession with the virtual while the real passes by.

Vive la différence – Appreciating that Men and Women are Different

On Friday evenings when I blog I often like to feature some commercial or poignant video and today is no exception. The videos at the bottom all highlight the fact that men and women are very different.

The first two videos are Verizon commercials that illustrate how men and women handle a farewell ritual. The mother and her daughter departing for college interact very emotionally, while in the second commercial the father and departing son interact very subtly, but with no less affection.

Granted, the differences are exaggerated, but exaggeration only makes sense if there is some kernel of truth in its observation. Men and women are different, and thank God.

Early in the pages of Scripture God decreed that It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a suitable helpmate for him (Gen 2:18). And God made woman. And she is quite different from Adam and yet one with him.

The physical differences are obvious, but, in Christian and biblical anthropology, these physical differences arise from important differences in the soul. It is the soul that is the form of the body. In other words it is the qualities of the male and female soul give rise to physical differences.

This is to some, politically incorrect today, yet it remains true. It is a common modern error to be dismissive of the profound differences between the sexes. No one can deny the physical differences, but they are dismissed as surface only, of no real, deeper significance. But the truth is that our bodies are expressions of the faculties of our soul and male and female differences are far more than skin deep.

It also remains true that these differences often give rise to tensions in the marriage and the overall relationships between men and women. That men and women perceive differently, think differently, and have different emotional experiences, is just a fact and it is always healthy to recognize and accept reality.

Too often, in the modern age there has been a tendency to dismiss these deep differences as just archetypes of bygone “sexist” era. But what ends up happening is that an expectation is created that these differences will just go away when we decide to ignore them, or pretend they don’t exist. And thus resentments and anger follow, because these differences do exist. Too many marriages end in power struggles because neither spouse can accept that it was not good for them to be alone and that God gave them a spouse who, by design, is very different, so that they could be challenged and completed.

It is true, Original Sin has intensified our pain at the experience of these given differences. The Catechism links the tension surrounding these difference to the Fall of Adam and Eve:

[The] union [of husband and wife] has always been threatened by discord, a spirit of domination, infidelity, jealousy, and conflicts that can escalate into hatred and separation. This disorder can manifest itself more or less acutely, and can be more or less overcome according to the circumstances of cultures, eras, and individuals, but it does seem to have a universal character. According to faith the disorder we notice so painfully does not stem from the nature of man and woman, nor from the nature of their relations, but from sin. As a break with God, the first sin had for its first consequence the rupture of the original communion between man and woman. Their relations were distorted by mutual recriminations;their mutual attraction, the Creator’s own gift, changed into a relationship of domination and lust; and the beautiful vocation of man and woman to be fruitful, multiply, and subdue the earth was burdened by the pain of childbirth and the toil of work. Nevertheless, the order of creation persists, though seriously disturbed. To heal the wounds of sin, man and woman need the help of the grace that God in his infinite mercy never refuses them. Without his help man and woman cannot achieve the union of their lives for which God created them “in the beginning.” (CCC #s 1606-1608)

In the end, it seems clear that we need to return to an appreciation of the necessity of our differences. Though our differences can be be intensified by sin, it is a fact that God made us different for a reason. These differences help spouses to complete each other. A husband should say, “My wife has some things important to teach me. I am incomplete without her.” Likewise the wife should be able to say that her husband has important things to teach her and that he somehow completes her. In this way we move beyond power struggles and what is right and wrong in every case and learn to experience that some tension is good. No tension, no change. God intends many of these differences to change and complete spouses. God calls the very difference humans he has made “suitable” partners.

And humor never hurts. So here are some videos. The first two I have already mentioned. The Third video contains the classic and wonderful comedy routine about the differences between a man’s brain and a woman’s brain. Humor is often the best of medicines to defuse some of the tensions that arise from our differences. Vive la difference!

It happened on our watch – as seen on TV

When I saw the commercial below, I was somehow struck by a twinge of guilt. And the words of a poem by William Butler Yeats came to mind:

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed,
and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Yes, something struck me. In the commercial, anarchy, destruction, injustice, violence, and pure chaos are shown. And yet, all the while our super hero, with the “Bat Phone” screeching in the background calling for help, is wholly distracted, flipping through the channels, unaware that the world around him is descending right into hell. He is turned inward, wholly focused on his own little world.

Is this us? Are we the super hero slouching on the couch as the world and western culture descended into a maelstrom: innocence lost, the blood-dimmed tide of the 20th Century, perhaps more 100 million put to death in war and for ideological purposes, moral anarchy swept in on the four horsemen of the apocalypse: relativism, secularism, individualism and the sexual revolution.

And all the while, with the wicked, marching with passionate intensity, the good were largely asleep, and lacking any intensity for the battle. All around us, divorce, abortion, teenage pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases skyrocketing, broken families, increasing lack of self control and discipline, school testing scores and graduation rates declining, the inability to live within our means, poverty rates for children climbing, drug and alcohol addiction rates on the rise, Church attendance plummeting, and the list could go on.

And where have we been as a Church, as Christians in a world gone mad? Where, for example was the Church in 1969, when the “no-fault divorce” laws began to be passed? It would seem we were inwardly focused, moving furniture in our sanctuaries, tuning up guitars, and having endless debates about liturgy, Church authority, why women can’t be ordained, etc. Not unimportant issues, but, being rather wholly focused on them and obsessed by them, we lost the culture.

Yes, it happened on our watch. I am now 50 and I cannot say it is all the fault of the previous generation. In my short span of a mere 50 years, the world as I knew it, has largely been swept away, especially in terms of family life. And now it is up to me to try and make a difference.

How about you? It will take courage, and an increasing conviction to live the Catholic faith, openly. No more of this undercover Catholic stuff, no more of the desire to fit in and be liked. It is long past midnight for our culture, for our families, for our children.

In the commercial, there is something very wrong with the picture, a superhero, ignoring the cries for help as the phone screeches.Time for our superhero to get off the couch, pick up the phone, re-engage, and get to work. It is interesting in that the movie he watches shows a wolf being set loose. Jesus says, Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves (Matt 7:15). Indeed many wolves talking (false) tolerance and other pleasantries have badly misled and spread error, calling sin good and misrepresenting the Biblical tradition.

Well, fellow superheroes, the last time I checked, we are supposed to be salt and light for this world. It’s time, long past time, to bring Christ’s power back to this world. Time to get off the couch, pick up the phone, re-engage and get to work.

Don’t just watch culture, direct culture.

Lust in Toyland – A Poignant and Powerful Portrait of Lust in an old Pixar Video

The video below is an old (1989) Pixar “short” reel depicting, in a darkly humorous way, the sin of lust. As is often the case in Pixar movies, toys come alive, and tell us more about ourselves than we might have known. You might want to view it before reading my commentary.

As the video opens we scan the shelf of toys and spy upon a toy woman too good to be true. Indeed, like Barbie, her figure is impossible, or possible only by way of surgery. Yes, here is the woman of Hollywood, or worse, the woman of the pornographers: surgically altered, photographically airbrushed and Photoshopped. She is meant to make normal women feel inadequate, and to make men fantasize about unreality, such that real women seem inferior to them. Yes, here is Satan’s tactic in lust, to shift normal attraction, meant to draw us to one another, into distorted attraction, which turns us inward to fantasy, and away from each other and reality.

Now meet the snowman, cold on the outside but burning with lust on the inside. As we meet him, he is clearly bored with what he has, bored with his reality. Scripture says, All things are wearisome, more than one can say. The eye never has enough of seeing, nor the ear its fill of hearing (Eccl 1:8).

And then he sees her! Too good to be true (she is in fact not real, not true, as we have discussed). And now the fires of lust are kindled in him, and he engages in a series of destructive, and self-destructive actions, all to satisfy his lust.

Is this not often what lust does? Those trapped by it will often throw everything overboard to possess its object. They will endanger and inflict harm on their very self, they will throw loved ones overboard, they will squander, use up and destroy their wealth and all they have. Some have destroyed marriages and families, forsaken children, and brought disease and poverty on them self, all for what lust promises: the latest voluptuous one, “Baby if you’ve got the curves, I’ve got the angles.”

Not a few of the actions of this toy snowman are of great symbolism:

1. Spying upon her, he fixes his eyes. For everything in the world–the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does–comes not from the Father but from the world. (1 John 2:16).

2. Conscience speaks – Suddenly there is a sound from above and he looks up. Is this the voice of his conscience, or the voice of God? Thoughtful, he looks down, and considers for a moment. Scripture personifies lust, and the voice that our snowman must hear as he looks up and down.

My son, pay attention to my wisdom, listen well to my words of insight, that you may maintain discretion, and your lips may preserve knowledge. For the lips of an adulteress drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil; but in the end she is bitter as gall, sharp as a double-edged sword. Her feet go down to hell, her steps lead straight to the grave. She gives no thought to the way of life; her paths are crooked, but she knows it not. Now then, my sons, listen to me; do not turn aside from what I say. Keep to a path far from her, do not go near the door of her house, lest you give your best strength to others (Prov 5:2-8)

(Pardon the quote ladies, for it lays the sin sin at the feet only of the woman. But remember lust is being personified here, and it is a father speaking to his sons in the passage).

3. But lust wins, he looks up angry and curses the glass “boundary” that prevents his fulfillment of his lustful desire. The boundary must go! The same Scripture says,  The evil deeds of a wicked man ensnare him; the cords of his sin hold him fast. He will die for lack of discipline, led astray by his own great folly. (Prov 5:23-25)

4. Lust, the home wrecker – The first thing he throws away is his home. He hurls it at the glass boundary. With it, we can presume goes his wife and family. Again scripture says,  You give your best strength to others and your years to one who is cruel. Drink water from your own cistern, running water from your own well. Should your springs overflow in the streets, your streams of water in the public squares? Let them be yours alone, never to be shared with strangers. May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth. A loving doe, a graceful deer— may her breasts satisfy you always, may you ever be captivated by her love. Why be captivated, my son, by an adulteress? (Prov 5:9, 15-20)

5. He goes on a reckless path of self destruction. He cuts off his nose to spite his face, literally. We also see his face become increasingly distorted as he wreaks havoc on himself and his world. His whole world, and everything and everyone in it, is shaken. For, like Jonah who brought storms to others when he ran from God, so does this snowman make the world around him shake and storm by his lust. He sows in the wind and reaps the whirlwind. And this is quite literally illustrated as a great storm swirls in his little world.

6. He descends deeper into sin. And because he has affected others, his whole world descends with him. So too for us, whom lust has brought low together. Our whole culture has descended, and lust is a huge reason for this. Scripture says of lust personified: Her feet go down to death; her steps lead straight to hell (Prov 5:4-5). And so this snowman and his world slide off the shelf and descend deeper into sin, while lady lust looks on.

7. The downward cycle continues and he is imprisoned in his lust. Quite literally drowning in his lusts, our snowman spies on a lusty mermaid and lunges for her. But his prison finds him, and once again, he discovers the truth with which we began, The eye never has enough of seeing, nor the ear its fill of hearing (Eccl 1:8). Indeed he is locked in his lusts. Again as Scripture says,  The evil deeds of a wicked man ensnare him; the cords of his sin hold him fast. (Prov 5:22)

And so we leave our snowman locked in his lust. He has lost his home and family, disfigured himself and fallen mighty low, taking his world and others with him. Such can be the toll of lust.

A rather serious post, I suppose, especially given the rather light fare of the video. But I hope you can see that the humor has a dark side, and that this little movie goes a long way in giving a poignant portrait of lust. “Enjoy” the video.

You Can’t Have it All – As seen on T.V.

One of the implicit messages in the advertisements we see is, in effect, “You are not adequate, you are not pretty enough, thin enough, healthy enough, popular enough, rich enough.” Further, “The world is a threatening and difficult place and you are not up to the task.” And then comes the pitch, “Buy our product and you’ll make it, you’ll measure up and solve life’s challenges. You won’t be so pathetic and ill equipped.” So the basic recipe is: incite fear and push the product as a solution.

And to be fair, the advertisements often do this with humor and creativity. Further, it is not wrong to sell a product to help meet a need. Needs are simply facts of human existence and people and companies do have good products to help us meet these needs.

But in the end we need to be more consciously aware that not every fear or apparent inadequacy elicited by an advertiser is a real or legitimate fear, or actual inadequacy. We don’t all have to be young, good looking, popular and perfectly healthy to be happy. I used to be young tan and trim, increasingly now, I am old, white and fat. But God is good and I am quite happy and more blessed than I deserve. I am also reasonably healthy, despite the extra weight. And even if advertisers insist that I should look and feel as I did at 25, I’m not buying into the fear, guilt and inadequacy thing. It’s wonderful to get older. And though my outer self, my body, is less sound and sleek, my inner self is being renewed day by day (cf 2 cor 4:16). I am more alive today than I ever was at 25.

Another thing that goes unsaid is the ultimate inadequacy of anything in this world to really satisfy us. Despite the many promises of ads and other media, no one product or even a huge collection of many products can really fill the God-sized hole in our hearts. I will say, there are many things that bring convenience and comfort. But, in the end, they don’t really cut the deal when it comes to deep satisfaction. In fact, the more we have, the more dissatisfied we seem to be. This is probably due to the unrealistic expectations all these creature comforts and pervasive ads strive to create. But in the end the words of Ecclesiastes still ring true:

All things are wearisome, more than one can say. The eye is never satisfied with seeing, nor the ear with hearing. What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun. Is there anything of which one can say, “Look! This is something new”? It was here already, long ago; it was here before our time. (Ecclesiastes 1:8-10)

Indeed, this world cannot live up to its hype. That longing in your heart which too easily is translated as “Buy a new car,” is better translated, “Seek always the face of the Lord” (cf Psalm 27:8) . Occasionally a new car is warranted but it won’t do the trick the advertisers say. A good beer, or a glass of wine can cheer the heart, but not really heal it .

So here we are in media world permeated with many unrealistic premises. We do well to ponder the often unquestioned assumptions of these marketers, even as we enjoy and use some their products.

In the following two videos, both Bud Light commercials, there are actually a couple of moments when the veil is pulled back and the inadequacy of the product is admitted, albeit in a humorous and subtle way.

In the first ad, two men are hopelessly bored as they sit through an opera with their wives. But Bud Light (smuggled in) comes to the rescue! Unfortunately, the glass bottles prove insufficient to withstand the opera as the “fat lady” sings. Alas, the beer could not really come through in the end! But wait! There is a twist in the end, maybe it really “can.” You just need the new and improved version! Nevertheless, just for a moment we see that maybe beer can’t really make everything OK.

In the second ad, our beer drinkers have installed rubber floors so that they will never break a beer bottle again. But alas, there are unintended consequences that emerge. And here too is a brief moment of truth as we learn that beer isn’t everything, and that choosing to make beer the point, may cause harm to other things we value. A brief moment of truth that “Dog-gone-it, you can’t have it all, even with beer at the center!”

By the way, nothing personal with Bud Light. Your blogger enjoys a nice cold Bud light from time to time!

Photo Credit: Trash on

On the Problem of Departing to Another Love – As seen in a commercial

There is an old saying, “If you’re climbing the ladder of success, many sure it is leaning up against the right wall.” For it is too often the case that we spend time amassing worldly treasure and success only to discover it cannot help us with our true problem, and may, in fact, have contributed to our trouble.

We find we love the world, and our hearts, which were made for God, go astray. Oh how we love the world, and its toys and trinkets.

And yet, the Scriptures say: Do not love the world or anything in the world….For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away…. (1 John 2:15-17)

In the commercial below the end of all things is upon us. The scenario is the (silly) Mayan 2012 destruction myth. However, in the midst of all this destruction four men who love a certain pickup truck get a good look at what they get for their love.

Disclaimer – Now I am not against Chevy pickups, a Chevy is fine American car. But let the truck represent our love for the world and our capacity to amass and haul this world’s goods. And in this truck many do drive.

And what is the final condition of the treasure they amass by driving this truck of the world. What do they reap, in gaining the whole world:

  1. A ruined worldFor the form of this world is passing away (1 Cor 7:31)
  2. Four men and NO women! And from daughter  Zion all her beauty is departed (Lam 1:6)
  3. No ChildrenHe has no offspring or descendants among his people, no survivor where once he lived (Job 18:19)
  4. Twinkies are the only food in evidenceThey will sow wheat but reap thorns (Jer 12:13)
  5. And here come the frogs, even on their precious truck Frogs will come up into your palace and your bedroom and onto your bed, into the houses of your officials and on your people, and into your ovens and kneading troughs (Ex 8:3)

Yes, here is what the world can ultimately offer. Here is what loving the world ultimately gives.

The song says in the background: Looks like we made it. Left each other on the way, To another love.

Yes, that’s the problem isn’t it? We departed to another love. We were made for God, to love and to experience his love. We were made for heaven, and to be with God is the heart of heaven. But too easily we depart to another love. And all the while we say we’ve made it, we’ve struck it rich.

Rude awakening – The men in the commercial seem to have no idea at first of the world they have inherited. But something about the falling frogs gives them the first hint of their true condition.

Will it occur to them that they have sown in the wind and are now reaping the whirlwind? Will it occur to them that they have given their love and loyalty to a world that is doomed to destruction.

The story ends without an answer. For ultimately you and I have to give that answer. Will WE continue to love this doomed world? Or will we give our heart to God.

Somewhere, nearer than you or I imagine, God is saying:

Why spend your money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare. Give ear and come to me; hear me, that your soul may live. I will make an everlasting covenant with you, my faithful love promised to David. (Is 55:2-3)

Can You Hear Me Now? What a Commercial has to teach us about listening for God

The video below takes an interesting twist on the usual cell-phone commercial which emphasizes strong signals, numerous “bars” of signal strength, and the memorable question, “Can you hear me now?”

But this commercial seeks a very different kind of “connectivity” using the cell phone, as its owner is desperate to get away, and not be heard or seen.

Suddenly the “bars” are not about connectivity, but are prison bars. The signal strength is more about the strength of the world to hold us captive. And the incessant question “Can you hear me now” comes to represent the din of a world that never stops its intrusive distractions and the need to hear another voice, the voice of God.

We moderns have many creature comforts, and a standard of living unimagined by our ancestors. And yet we also have levels of stress and a pace of life that would terrify most of them. Today, I put 110 miles on my car going about my day on numerous priestly errands. Two hundred years ago, it was quite possible that a person never journeyed more than 50 miles from their birthplace in their entire life.

Imagine the shock to a denizen of the 18th Century, magically transported to our time. There he would be with me in the car as I traveled at almost 70mph down the highway, merging in and out of traffic at speed, a speed almost unimaginable to him (70 miles in one hour? he thinks, Really? Is that possible?). And all the while:

  • A voice out of thin air, from a device they call a “radio” sounding with a fast-paced announcer,
  • And a “metal box they call a cell phone” ringing and conversations taking place with an unknown interlocutor by some magical process.
  • And there we would be, pulling into a hospital, 43 miles away, in less than an hour (how is that possible?!), in what was to him a distant city.
  • Overhead fly “airplanes” from the nearby Airport, the planes whisking overhead at 300 mph.
  • Suddenly it is back to the big city, a quick lunch with food that is heated, not by fire but in some magical box with a high-pitched hum.
  • And it’s off to another meeting across town weaving and whisking through traffic.
  • Everywhere in that city people rushing about, phones ringing, radios playing, cars tooting horns, construction noise, the sound of loud buses, and, overhead, still more planes and helicopters.
  • Despite what was to him breakneck speed, still there is me, complaining as to the slow pace of traffic and that we’re going to be late.

Soon enough our friend from the 18th century begins to shake with trauma, and cover his ears from all the loud noise and the constant interruptions. Magically transported back to the 18th Century, and shaking with trauma, he tells his friends of his visit to hell, where people rush about in metal devices at dizzying speeds and complain that they are late. And the noise! Oh the noise! And the terrifying fact that the people are required to travel over 100 miles a day before they can rest,  and they must be in multiple places and do multiple things all at once: Being forced to talk into metal devices whenever they ring, and still hold conversations with people around them, even as another voice coming out thin air (which they called a radio) speaks of bad things like murders, and no jobs and rising prices, and then it blares music. And the little metal box keeps ringing, and they keep talking into it, and rushing down roads at high speed and wondering if they’ll be late again.

Well you get the point. Can you imagine how quiet it would seem if we magically went to the 18th Century?

In the hours after 9/11 here in DC, nearby National Airport ceased operations, and most businesses closed here, and most people stayed home, glued to their TVs. Most cell phones fell silent too;  the still new technology overwhelmed by demand, simply shut down. There was an eerie silence outside. Only the strange smell of burning jet fuel from the nearby Pentagon reminded of the horrible mayhem that preceded this eerie peace. No cars, no phones, no planes over head. All in stillness.

“Can you hear me now?” Yes Lord, I can hear you now. I can hear you you in the stillness. A still, small voice, a whisper in the heart, a pause in the action, giving room for God. Yes, Lord, I can hear you now. I can hear you.

In this commercial four men seek for a place where there is “No Signal” from the world. The Ad says, “Chevy runs deep.” Yes, but God runs deeper, in that place where God says, “Be still and know that I am God.”

Where is your place of no-signal? Where is your place that you can hear God say, “Can you hear me now?”

Seeing the Great Spiritual Battle and the Woman at the Well in a Star Wars Commercial

In the video below there is a man who is easily talked out of his meal by Yoda, the Star Wars Jedi Master. At some point however, when the Jedi Master tries to rook him out of his Pepsi, the man has hit bottom and realizes that this is a bridge too far. He refuses to give way any longer.

I wonder if this is not an image for Christians in their battle against the world and the devil. Indeed, too often we are willing to give way to those in the world (and the Devil himself) who ask us to surrender our dignity, to make compromises, and to give way to sin. So easily we surrender our serenity to a world that provokes anxiety and anger; we surrender our chastity to a world that exults lust; we give over our generosity to a world that instills a fear that makes us hoard; we hand over our prophecy to a world that demands our silence; we neglect our souls and hand over its care to a world that demands we be fixated on the body, on good looks, and endless obsession with our health; we hand over our prayer and the celebration of the sacraments to a world that demands all our time.

In effect the world and the devil say to us, “All you have is mine, now hand it over.”

At some point in the commercial the man wakes up to what is happening and he stops handing things over. For him (and for the commercial’s creators) it is the Pepsi. But what of us? Have you reached this point? How? When? What was the bridge too far? For many addicts this wake up point is called “hitting bottom” when the insanity of addiction just costs too much. As the insanity becomes powerfully evident, they are finally willing to say “no,” or “enough.”

Perhaps too the wake up moment comes when we finally begin to see that the world asks too much, takes too much, and offers nothing of real or lasting value in return. Perhaps we too, like the man in the commercial, start to see the lies, the deception, and the theft that takes place, as the world tries to have us ignore our true and substantial hunger and give away the Eucharistic meal and Holy Communion that is our baptismal right.

In the commercial Yoda tries mesmerizing the man, saying of the meal, “You do want!” And thus also the world and the devil say of God, “You do not want.” As if to say, “Your desires are not about God and the things waiting for you in heaven, they are about about me….give me your heart, your loyalty, your life.”

When the Man in the commercial does finally awake it is about drink that he awakens. And here I am reminded of the Woman at the well. Jesus finally reached her through thirst, as well, and taught, Everyone who drinks this water (the world) will be thirsty again. But whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life (Jn 4:13-14). For her, and for the man, in the commercial it is thirst that awakens them to the lies and deceptions of the world.

Note finally of the commercial that the world and the devil (here symbolized by the Jedi Master Yoda) do not give up easily. The man must fight for the drink that is his. He must fight to take back what the devil and the world stole from him. In the end he wins, and so will we, for Jesus Christ is stronger than any worldly force. The cross wins, it always wins.

So fight on, do not let the world and the devil steal from you. Fight with Jesus for the drink and the meal  that is really and truly yours.

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