When you look around the world, the difference between those who believe in Christ and those who don’t isn‘t always obvious. An early Christian theologian, Tertullian, refers to a pagan, comparing the Christians to the pagans saying, ‘See, how these Christians love one another.’ What has changed in these years, that the contrast is no longer so stark?
At Pentecost we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit who is sent to bring us to a new understanding of our life. But is what he tells us really going to be so different from what we already live or understand about our life today?
Take for example what society has to say about love. Our society prides itself on setting love free from a previous generations prudishness. It is very strong on love and our right to love as we want, in fact society is all about our rights just now, perhaps even to the extent of putting rights before duty. Christ though, is also very strong on love as we hear in the Gospels. When he speaks of love though, it is more about what we should be doing, almost as if in love, duty comes before rights. When we stop and ask ourselves what we are looking for in love, I think we find we live a love where you put the good of the other before yourself - love of your husband or wife, love of your children… you sacrifice yourself for the other, but you also have a right to expect them to do the same for you… that is love. Love is both duty and right, but real love, the kind that endures is a love that puts others before ourselves, you might say the love we want, the love we are searching for in life is a love that puts duty before rights:
But our Society is really promoting a different vision of love; it is in effect a more selfish vision. With what result? We see everywhere the breakdown of marriages because marriage doesn’t fit in with society’s vision. We find everywhere a fear of commitment because people are taught to expect to receive, and the idea of having to give even when it hurts can be too frightening, too demanding. It is becoming the age of pre-nuptial agreements for the rich - clearly it isn’t about love. All this makes me worried and makes me ask; are we creating a loveless society, a selfish society? Are we witnessing the meltdown of society so that everything is becoming privatised and individualised?
As Catholics we are called to live a different vision, one that comes to us from the Holy Spirit. There is a difference in being a believer in Christ, and hopefully as society continues pursuing its particular vision of love, that difference will once again become clearer.
Christian families have to counter this trend, and help our children know what the truth is. We have to do it first of all for their good, but also for the good of society, otherwise, is it too outrageous to suggest we are moving towards a complete breakdown of the next generation?