February 24, 2017
Friday, Week Seven, Year I
The Seductive Power of Culture
When we see how things go on this earth and the paths that people follow, what overwhelms us is the seductive power of culture.
Children grow up in Christian homes. Their parents have the faith and form them in it. But once out of the house, the youth stop going to Mass. The last thing on earth youth want to hear is that they are “conformists.” But in fact, their behavior is predictable. They will conform to the attitudes, values and behavior of their peer group. First in college; later in business and politics.
They were taught that Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. But in fact, they follow the way of the world, accept the truth as filtered through their society, and their life is like everyone else’s.
Like everyone’s in their peer group, that is; they think they are free and different, but they are only free from the truth the Church teaches and different from the peer group of their parents. They swallow uncritically the assumptions of their chosen environments and blend into the scenery. They don’t stand out.
Sirach 6:5-17 is realism. If we think we are free spirits we are naïve. It is true we form ourselves as persons by our choices; that is what makes each of us unique. But it is also true, although not admitted, that our choices are all influenced, and most of them pre-determined, by the communal choices of our culture. So Sirach says, “Choose your friends.” When we choose our friends, we are in fact choosing our way of life, whether or not we are aware of it. Do you find this hard to accept?
Language: what words do you find acceptable and why? Dress: who chose the image you are projecting? Food and drink: how original are your habits? Spending: what are your thought-out priorities? Family life: How is yours visibly different from others; what sets the daily schedule? Housing: what is the “right” kind of neighborhood? Work: what determined your choice of career? Work-ethic: whose rhythm are you dancing to? Reading: who are your favorite authors? Conversation: what do you talk about? Avoid talking about? Morality: What is acceptable: in your work, social life, political choices? Does your behavior raise eyebrows among your peers? Make them uncomfortable?
“When you gain friends, first test them. And be not too ready to trust them.” What determines their values? What truths are the foundation for their attitudes? Where are they leading you?
“There are friends, boon companions, who will not be with you when sorrow comes.” When you become an alcoholic. Pregnant. Deprived of a God you know how to deal with. Without a faith to pass on to your children. When you realize your life is meaningless; empty. When your soul desires to soar. Who will you talk to?
“Faithful friends are a life-saving remedy; those who fear the Lord will find them.” If you stay in bounds you will make friends with those you meet there. And vice-versa.
“Those who fear the Lord behave accordingly. And their friends will be like them.” Like attracts like. If your standards are clear, you will bond with people who support them. This leads to “communion in the Holy Spirit.”
“Guide me, Lord, in the way of your commands.” He will, if we choose friends who will walk with us.
Meditation: Is my lifestyle different from that of my friends? Why is that?