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Running From Applause

July 30, 2018 (486 words)

The story is told of Jesus feeding a hungry multitude from what at first appeared to be a meager pantry. In a surprise turn of events, not only was everyone in attendance able to eat their fill that day, free of charge, but there were prodigious left-overs to spare. The crowd cheered what they rightly took to be a miraculous event.

“This is truly the Prophet,” they said, “the one who is to come into the world.” But Jesus ran from the applause, so to speak. Worldly acclaim was not his objective.

His took his leave and withdrew again to the mountain alone, there to engage in further prayer and contemplation. His concern was for the people. Amazed at having been unexpectedly satiated, they were in danger of missing the deeper message he was sent among us to teach.

This world has always been a noisy and distracting place. It has always been easy for us to miss the deeper message. To be thrown off by a momentary manipulation of ways and means that dazzles the senses.

… a momentary manipulation of ways and means

But perhaps today we have reached an apex of distraction. And conducting ourselves as thoroughly modern citizens, we bask in a society-wide promotion of “freedom” and “liberty.” This is responsible for a major paradigm shift in how we, the people, strut and fret our hour upon this temporary stage.

We have shed the idea of one’s character being a work-in-progress, requiring the strenuous application of native intelligence and practical reason in a non-stop effort to outgrow an inbred inclination toward self-absorption. Life is no longer about learning how to conduct oneself in a manner that respects the dignity of those around us.

Now the general consensus is that we are each already perfect just the way we are. The only mission any of us has in this world is to “be true to ourselves,” and to “express who we really are.”

This is the underlying legacy of “freedom” and “liberty” the conservatives are always crowing about. They specialize in applying it to the realm of public, economic behavior, yet are dumb-founded when liberals intuit the very same concepts to private behavior of a sexual nature.

It’s the entire modern experiment that needs to be re-evaluated. Both sides of the ideological divide have it all wrong. We are supposed to be doing more with our lives that merely pursing an endless advance of our material circumstances. Or, more than indulging a headstrong insistence on the pursuit and justification of whatever sexual impulse we happen to be tempted by.

In this context, we should be wary of applause, and of allowing our senses to be dazzled. We should instead consider spending more time in prayer and contemplation, in the hope of grasping a bit of Christ’s deeper message.

Robert J. Cavanaugh, Jr.
July 30, 2018

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