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Jesus entered the synagogue. There was a man there who had a withered hand. They watched Jesus closely to see if he would cure him on the sabbath so that they might accuse him. He said to the man, “Come up here before us.” Then he said to the Pharisees, “Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath rather than to do evil, to save life rather than destroy it?”
This past weekend, I completed reading a book entitled Literary Converts, by Joseph Pearce. Although a writer and convert himself, Pearce thoroughly examines the lives of hundreds of other English poets and writers from the 1900’s to the end of the 20th century who converted to the Christian/Catholic faith. Pearce writes that starting in the 1920’s, roughly 12,000 people in England were converting annually to Catholicism. Among them was a young lady named Dorothy Sayers.
Dorothy Sayers was only fifteen-years-old when she first read G.K. Chesterton’s Orthodoxy. She was inspired and excited by Chesterton’s defense of the Catholic Church and faith, especially Chesterton’s portrait of the Church as a heavenly chariot “thundering through the ages, the dull heresies of atheism and secularism sprawling and prostrate, the wild truth reeling but erect.”
Pearce writes: “This invigorating vision rekindled her faith at a time when adolescent doubt and growing disillusionment with the low-church Puritanism to which she was accustomed was threatening to extinguish it. ‘In the book called Orthodoxy’, she wrote, ‘there were glimpses of this other Christianity, which was beautiful and adventurous and queerly full of honor.’ She told a friend in later years, but for Chesterton’s vision of Orthodoxy, she might in her schooldays have abandoned Christianity altogether” (pg 51).
In 1938, with the threat of another war with Germany, Dorothy Sayers wrote a book entitled, Begin Here. Her book reflects her observations on the rise of atheistic thought throughout the world and the absurdities that went along with it. What she found most disturbing and noticeable about this gradual development “is that the more man knows, scientifically, the less he understands the purpose of existence, and the less is his individual importance in the scheme of things” (Literary Converts, pg 215).
Pearce summaries her thoughts: “Far from atheism being indicative of ‘progress’, Sayers argued that humanity was regressing. She charted the regression in seven distinct phases representing humanity’s comprehension, or rather increasing incomprehension, of itself. According to the teaching of Christianity…man was understood theologically to be a Whole Man, the image of God. This was, and is, the theological man of Christian orthodoxy. Then, from the time of the Renaissance, came ‘humanist man’ – man as a value in himself, apart from God; followed by ‘rational man’ – man as the embodied Intelligence; then ‘biological man’, Homo Sapiens – man as the intelligent animal; ‘sociological man’ – man as the member of the herd; ‘psychological man’ – man as the response to his environment; and finally, ‘economic man’ – man as the response to the means of livelihood. The triumph of the till!”
When I read today’s Gospel passage of a man with a withered hand, I immediately connected this passage to what I had recently read in Literary Converts. Is it so farfetched to associate ‘modern’ man to this ‘crippled’ man? Isn’t it noticeable how the youthfulness and beauty of modern childhood is quickly wilting away? How their teenage years have easily become crippling and devastating years? Instead of breathing the freshness of innocence and security, their young lungs are filling up with depression and despair. Why? Why??? Could it be because we have kicked their legs right from under them? Could it be because we have offered them nothing to stand on; nothing that can really support them?
The experts, the intelligentsia and the social engineers fooled us to march with them! We did. Parents marched and demanded rights as they dragged their hopeless children by their knees. They forced fed their children to swallow and digest their new ‘modern’ family and godless society. Now, as more and more of them come home to empty homes, we have to shout and scream at them for being immature, irresponsible and naive. We shout at them because they are…kids. And they should be “adults” by now.
How they are bruised. How they are beaten. They continually bump their heads against their social’ media (Internet) friends; abuse their bodies to perform brilliantly (physically, sexually and academically). But they can’t keep up with us. They can’t keep up… and are wasting away.
“It is the modern dilemma, the paradox of progress, that scientific advances seem to go hand in hand with social disintegration – the result of an increase of knowledge coupled with a lack of understanding and precious little wisdom” (Literary Converts, pg 215)
The withered man can only be cured by the humble Man, the holy Man, the God-Man. He can only be saved by stretching out his hand and touching Jesus Christ.
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