Who in your life is a deep person? Would you say I’m a deep person or a superficial person? What about Deacon Lucio? What about society overall? What about yourselves: are you deep or maybe superficial? One quality that makes someone deep is that they do deep thinking. If we want to be deep people and avoid superficiality, then we have to do deep thinking.
I bring it up because some people have asked me to go deeper in my homilies. But I tell them I haven’t always gone deep because some people can’t handle it. How do I know? Because I see heads go down when I go deeper! Let me share with you an important tip: right now, if you can see my face… then I can see yours. I can see you look down or talk to one another! I know some people think to themselves: “With so many heads in front of me, he’ll never see me.” But I can! Now I know that sometimes people look down because they’re thinking, but I also know when people get disinterested.
Part of being a deep thinker is paying attention to everything, even to things we don’t understand, because there’s always something to be learned. (I learned this from my middle brother, Fr. Garrick.) So when I go to a presentation, for example, on astronomy, business, or politics, and I don’t understand all of it, I still try to pay attention and learn what I can. See if you can try to do the same.
Today we’re going to go a bit deeper, and from now on, we’ll try to go deeper. In the Gospel, Jesus gives His teaching on the Eucharist, but it’s a difficult teaching, so the disciples start complaining and some start leaving Him. He asks the Twelve, “Do you also wish to go away?” And St. Peter replies, “Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life” (Jn 6:67-68).
That’s the question for all of us today: do we believe Jesus has the words of eternal life? Another way of asking this question is: do we believe He offers the best way to live? And if we don’t, who or what does? Who offers a better way to live than Jesus?
One of the deepest questions anyone can ask is, “How is the best way to live?” There are many ways to live: we can live for money, pleasure, ourselves, for happiness, others, or God. But which is the best way? The greatest philosophers all considered this question. They may have differed in their answers, but they all asked the question. Notice that most of our culture isn’t interested in this question. They’re not interested in the best way to live, but in how they want to live. Our public education system and perhaps parts of our Catholic education system avoid this question entirely.
The whole Church and I believe Jesus teaches the best way to live. But how do we know this? One way to know is by comparison. Compare how Jesus teaches us to live and how our culture teaches us to live, and let’s do this on two issues:
1) What is the goal of life?
Our culture doesn’t really think about this question. Think about it: how much of social media, TV and movies are occupied with discussing the goal of life? Very, very little. When they do get around to suggesting answers, it’s usually something like: enjoy life, have fun, be a good person—all good things. But an immediate question would be: isn’t there more to life than enjoying it? Isn’t there more to life than having fun? What about helping other people, reaching our potential, searching for truth, love, and perfection?
Being a good person is good, but what exactly is a good person? Being good and nice sounds fine, until we realize that most people in Canada are nice and yet we still kill 100,000 unborn children every year through abortion; there’s still so much corruption and selfishness, so much materialism; our society accepts broken families as normal; lying, swearing and cheating are considered simply a part of life. And if someone challenges this notion of being good and suggests that we do what’s right, nice people avoid the challenge and say something like, “Well, it’s not really wrong,” or “Who are you to judge me?”
What’s the goal of life according to Jesus? The goal is to become like Him, to reach true happiness. If everyone in Canada lived like Jesus, how do you think Canada would be? There would be no more hatred or selfishness; there would be more forgiveness, sacrificial lives, more laughter and joy, more hope and less anxiety. It was from following Jesus’ example that Christians started hospitals, took care of the poor, and began education for the masses.
Imagine if your coworker or boss were like Jesus. He would always show up on time ready to go, do his work to the best of his ability, listen attentively, be patient with your mistakes, courteous, fun to be with, and generous; he would help you when you needed it; he would make sure you were treated fairly and at the same time he would challenge you to grow.
Wouldn’t it be great if your spouse were like Jesus? Could you imagine how good life would be if your children acted like Jesus? They’d be so helpful around the house, always obey and listen, be eager to learn, respectful and friendly to people they meet, and never talk back. And if our parents were more like Jesus, we’d feel more secure and loved.
So who offers a better goal of life? Canada is in a bit of a mess because we’re more interested in having fun and being nice. But if we followed Jesus’ goal of life our lives would be infinitely happier.
2) Let’s quickly look at the world’s view of pornography compared to Jesus’.
Deacon Lucio mentioned this issue in passing a while back and it made me think how it’s a massive issue and one we avoid. Pornography is a huge reality in our society: one in five mobile searches are for pornography, “64% of Christian men and 15% of Christian women say they watch porn at least once a month,” and “9 out of 10 boys are exposed to pornography before the age of 18,” while it’s 6 out of 10 for girls.
Here we see there’s a chasm between Jesus’ view and our society’s view. The world says pornography is acceptable and legal. Very simply, if people consent to it, then it must be right. After all they say, “No one’s getting hurt, no one’s getting pregnant, it’s part of a healthy sex life, it’s natural. Because sex is good, there’s nothing wrong with showing it.”
Jesus’ view is different. Not only is sex good, but it’s holy and sacred, and so it should be protected. Pornography cheapens sex and makes it something that can be sold. When Catholics think about sex, they think, “Fragile: handle with care.” Not because it’s bad, but because it’s powerful, and if you misuse it, you’ll get hurt. St. Paul teaches sex is something that can unite husband and wife in intimacy, not just pleasure, and can bring forth new life.
The truth is, people do get hurt. Pornography hurts the people involved: there is so much low self-esteem, using of people, sexual abuse, drugs, suicides, and abortions. Men who watch it get emasculated, meaning they’re robbed of their masculinity: rather than sacrificing themselves for the beloved, they sacrifice the beloved for themselves. Neurologically, a man’s brain will expect women to live up to his fantasies, and when you get married, this is unbearable for a wife; she can’t live up to a fantasy. It ruins one’s ability to bond and commit, and we become selfish. People also get very addicted, trying to maintain a high, and are not able to say “No.” St. John Paul II is reported to have said that the problem with pornography is not that it shows too much, but that it shows too little. In other words, it doesn’t show the full dignity of the person but reduces them to an object for someone else’s selfish lustful gain.
So, who offers a better view of sexuality? Has our society’s increased and rampant use of pornography made for better dating, marriages and relationships? Jesus upholds the sacredness of the body and sex, meaning we grow in self-control and respect, and that makes for better marriages and relationships.
Last thought: when we think about who offers a better way to live and the issue of pornography, it occurs to me that the world can only offer partial healing and forgiveness in this area. But Jesus can offer complete healing and forgiveness. He can completely heal and redeem the damage of pornography. So many people have been renewed by Jesus’ love in their lives, in their relationships, and in their marriages. The world offers no miracles because it doesn’t believe in miracles. Jesus offers miracles regularly because He’s a God of mercy and fresh starts. Now that is a deep thought that is life-giving and inspiring. That’s one of many reasons why I think Jesus offers the best way to live.