- Ghost of Christmas Present
Many of us may reflect on The Christmas Carol this time of year. We are given an ominous warning about “our business”. Mankind is our business, the common welfare, charity, mercy, forbearance and more. We are to help “the girl”, but our doom seems to stem ultimately from “the boy”. Why? Because what we know directs what we do.
If God is Truth, then Truth should direct the will. If love is an act of the will, then to love or judge something, we need to know it. The primacy of the intellect is important in order to love and judge things in the right way. If we are ignorant of what is true, how will we direct our will? What is our criterion for judging, other than our own desires?
Scripture gives us a subtle warning on the topic. “My people are ruined for lack of knowledge!” (Hosea 4:6). If we chose to ignore “the boy”, then doom will engulf us all, because it all starts with ideas, and ideas have consequences. “Sow a thought and you reap an action; sow an act and you reap a habit; sow a habit and you reap a character; sow a character and you reap a destiny.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson
In the 25th chapter of the Gospel of Mathew we hear, “For I was hungry and you gave me food”. This is certainly about physical food, but also about the spiritual work of mercy to feed the intellect. One can think of the truths of our faith as a kind of health-food for the mind.
The seeds of God’s image & likeness are in every person, so we have a natural hunger for truth/knowledge. Stop and contemplate “hunger” for a moment. What happens to people if they are hungry enough, for long enough? They’ll eventually eat something; they’ll eventually eat somewhere, but will it be good food or will it be garbage? Will they care where the food comes from as long as it gives some satisfaction?
The Fall of Man has dimmed the intellect and weakened the will; as a result the human soul easily grows flabby and tired. In other words it is natural for us to be spiritually stupid and lazy. We then default to our animalistic sensibilities and have the habit of replacing God with other masters since it seems to save us so much trouble.
We all like to think of ourselves as independent thinkers, but people are like sheep and everyone eventually sits at the feet of a master. Who will feed our intellect about the right to life, human dignity, the nature of marriage, just war, capital punishment, etc.? Will we sit at the feet of Jesus through His Church or will it be some politician or political party, a celebrity or talk show host, a television evangelist, your favorite college professor, or will it simply be the always "infallible" majority? Who is your master?