Posts Tagged ‘Goodness’

What is love?

In 07 Observations on 2014/04/18 at 12:00 AM

Detailed notes taken by Aida Tamayo on Fr. Robert Barron’s Catholicism Series

Thomas Aquinas, following Aristotle, defines love as “to will the good of another.” Love is not a feeling.  Love is an act of the will to want that which is good for someone else.  If possible one will also act to bring about the good of another. That is why Jesus said love your enemy (Will the good of that person).  What is the good of the person, my enemy? Perhaps that this person sees the evil in his actions and turns to do what is good.

Love is a powerful word and it is the most overused and abused word of our times.  Pope Benedict XVI said God is Love and he is right.  But when our understanding of Love is so skewed, so will be our understanding of God.  Here is how we use LOVE: I love pizza (it pleases me) I love this show (it entertains me) I love you (you give me pleasure), I love my parents (as long as they don’t tell me what to do or inconvenience me) I love God (as long as His Will doesn’t interfere with mine).  Love in our world is what makes me feel good.  So if God is Love He will do what will please me. No.

God is LOVE, the source of all goodness.  Love is not what I feel and it is not about me. Love is about the good I can will and do for others.

Loving God, and being His followers.  Pope John Paul II called the Beatitudes the self-portrait of Christ in Veritatis Splendor. Most Bible scholars would agree that the Beatitudes give us a clear picture of the true disciple of God.  To get to this point, a follower must be following all the commandments and come to understand that the meaning of life is doing the will of God.  Pursuing the Beatitudes will perfect the soul of those that will to follow the Lord. Father Barron says that the Beatitudes reveal that the true path of joy is found not in grasping at power but in the willing surrender to God’s mysterious grace.

Loving others, and turning the other cheek.  Turning the other cheek is a way of forcing an aggressor to confront its aggression.  We are not saying that a Jewish person in Nazi Germany confronts the Gestapo.  That would be suicide. What Jesus meant is that when presented with an injustice, instead of returning the injustice or running away from it we choose a 3rd option… turn the other cheek.

To illustrate the point we can look at someone who understood Jesus’ message well and puts it into practice.  Blessed Teresa once entered a bakery in Calcutta with a poor hungry child.  She asked the owner if he could spare a piece of bread for the child.  He spit in her face.  She calmly wiped her face looked at him kindly and said, that was for me, now can you spare a piece of bread for the child.  That is what Jesus meant by turning the other cheek. She understood Love: Will the good of the other.


A Trilogy of the Unreal: Part 3 – The Reality of Evil

In 08 Musings by Jack Reagan on 2012/07/28 at 9:09 AM

There are those who contend that the U.S. has become awash in sin, corruption and evil of all kinds. They can offer rather convincing statistics to support their belief. They cite the high abortion rate (55 million), the billion-dollar pornography industry, the high numbers of illegitimate births and the explosion of sexually transmitted diseases and more.

There are even more who contend that there is nothing wrong and that those who do “evil” are not immoral at all, but are merely exercising their free choice to determine for themselves what their personal moral code will be. (Can a society survive without objective moral codes?)

Why do we call evil “evil?” It is the opposite of good and in order to call anything evil, we must be familiar with a standard of goodness. If we did not know what was morally good, we could never judge anything to be morally evil because there would be no standard of comparison. The only absolute standard of goodness is God and His moral law which binds all humans to obedience whether they believe it or like it or not. When an action or a series of actions violates the natural moral law, it is considered to be evil or sinful.

A problem arises when a society rejects God, at least in practice as has American society. The standard of moral goodness is changed from the infallible God to fellow human beings in various positions of power: legislators, judges, media. They tend to set the standard based usually on personal and subjective preferences. Those who do not like the restrictions of divine law to begin with easily succumb to the lure of evil now described as a good, or at least no longer evil. (None of this changes God’s mind at all.)

Machiavelli, the author of “The Prince”, taught that humans were basically evil in action and intent. Jean Jacques Rousseau, the French “philosopher”, taught that people are all basically good and that society corrupts them . . . forgetting that a society is composed of people.  St. Paul called men sinners, but he did not say they were evil. The Church teachers that, because of Original Sin, man has a tendency to sin and evil and does fall, but is not per se evil because there is the possibility of forgiveness for the repentant. Evil does not seek forgiveness because real evil sees nothing to be forgiven for because it does not see its evil actions as evil.

There is an objective standard of moral goodness and moral evil (sin). This is imposed by the Creator and its validity and force does not depend on human acceptance of the standards. This is the standard by which all humans will be judged. Too many people think they are free to change divine law to suit themselves. The Supreme Court attempted this in Roe vs Wade. The problem is that God did not agree. A city council cannot change state law and a state cannot change federal law, and humans cannot change divine law . . . even though they attempt to do rather frequently.

The safest course is to strive to be on God’s side if for no other reason that no human or group of humans has even a scintilla of divine intelligence. Why follow the ignorant and weak? “Right is still right even if no one is right and wrong is still wrong even if every one is wrong.”

The choice is ours, choosing human “wisdom” because it appeals to us is at least risky. Choosing divine wisdom is not always to our liking, but it will keep us on the right road. And only the right road will reach the destination.