The Choice That Would Make a World of Difference
By Fr. Walter Dziordz, MIC (Oct 24, 2006)
Recently, I heard the correct translation of a Bible saying. The saying is, "Many are called, few are chosen" (Mt 22:14). Most people have heard or read this saying. But the correct translation is: "Many are called, few choose."
Wow. That changes everything, doesn't it? That puts the responsibility squarely upon our own shoulders. We are being called, but it's up to us to choose whether to follow that call. That's not a particularly easy choice today. Not in the culture we live in, a culture where people seem hypnotized by so many things that separate them from God.
Why do I use the word "hypnotized?" To be hypnotized means to be in a state that resembles sleep. The roof could be caving in all around us, and we don't know it. If we're hypnotized, our eyes will remain trained on the hypnotist's coin, right? Well, I look around and see a world that is falling apart, and still so many people seem oblivious to it.
We need to snap out of it, to wake up to the world's problems and to the problems within our own hearts.
The Roman Catholic Church has always said: "Watch your eyes." In other words, don't get hypnotized focusing on the wrong things. Wherever we focus our spiritual eyes determines what we yearn for. Jesus said, "The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light" (Mt 6:22). Depending on what we desire, our lives can be filled with light or darkness. It's our choice.
How many of us make the right choice?
When Jesus walked the earth, he encountered a world that was insane. What is the meaning of insanity? It's the repetition of the same behavior with the hope for a different result each time. Which means, we'll do something 100 times, and if it doesn't work, we'll do it for the 101st time thinking that it will work.
How is our world any different than it was when Christ came more than 2,000 years ago? We still remain focused on the wrong things — money, power, material possessions, our egos, the flesh, war, revenge, and violence. We still gossip and seek revenge. We still commit adultery, and we cheat and lie, even though all those things make us feel worse about ourselves.
Why do we still do those things, then?
We remain hypnotized. We follow the coin.
In so many ways, our world is worse off now than it was 2,000 years ago. We've developed weaponry that can annihilate every living thing. We've become so advanced that our routine actions now pollute the very air we breathe, the food we eat, and the water we drink.
More than half the world is starving, or living with disease, or orphaned, or living under some form of tyranny. Do we pray for them? Do we reach out to them? Or do we turn a blind eye to the unpleasant things that don't immediately concern us?
Though Americans account for only 5 percent of the world's population, we consume 26 percent of the world's resources. Do we care about conservation? Do we even care what the rest of the world thinks of us? Yes, America is charitable, but are we charitable enough, considering what we have and what we consume?
Sudan's Darfur region has been the scene of a deadly conflict for three years now. An estimated 400,000 people are believed to have been killed, and more than 2 million have been displaced. Yet, I would guess most of us know more about who is divorcing whom in Hollywood than who is killing whom in this troubled African nation.
Even with our evening news broadcasts, we get maybe 10 minutes of international news. Then what? We get some puff piece that has nothing to do with the real issues of the world, the real pain, the real needs of our fellow man. Ten minutes. That's it. People don't care about it. Most Americans don't even vote.
William Buckley once lamented how our country's concept of freedom has changed in 200 years from one in which we sought freedom from things (such as rulers and governments that oppress the mind) to freedom to do things (to do anything we want). And, indeed, now, anything and everything goes. The individual good has replaced the common good. Raw sexuality is now mainstream. Consumerism is king.
Many people are now slaves to these "freedoms." Here's a thought: Aren't such "freedoms" just another form of tyranny?
Follow the coin.
I often hear people say the problem with our culture is that we're only rational thinkers — that we only listen to scientists at the sake of faith in God. That makes me laugh because, clearly, we don't even listen to our scientists. For instance, scientists warned us about what a powerful hurricane would do to New Orleans, and we didn't listen.
It's time to snap out of it and refocus. Jesus' message of Divine Mercy is a wake-up call — that we are responsible for each other, that the time to turn to His mercy is now.
Just because Christ says "Father, forgive them, they know not what they do" (Lk 24:34), that doesn't mean He's letting us off the hook. In the gospels, Jesus says at one point "you are worth many sparrows" (Mt 10:31). That's His way of telling us that we are too important to stay asleep like animals. This world is ours. This garden was given to Adam to manage and run. We are called to be responsible for our world and our planet.
Christ is telling us to do something different, to expand our awareness — to not sin, to not hurt our neighbor, to forgive, to make amends to those we have hurt, to not nurture a grudge, but to nurture non-violence instead.
Christ's very choosing of us, to de-hypnotize us, is an act of mercy. He wants us to focus on things that lead us to Him. It's imperative. Our world is on the brink of something. It could be on the brink of disaster or of salvation.
It's our choice.
What do you choose to do today?
Father Walter Dziordz, MIC, is Provincial Superior of the Marians' St. Stanislaus Kostka Province, based in Stockbridge, Mass.