The Apostolate of the Laity

Waxing philosophical in communion with one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church.

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Location: Portland, Oregon, United States

I am just a sinner who holds fast to the notion that every human being on the planet is the result of a thought of God.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Triumph of Good

No being is said to be evil, considered as being, but only so far as it lacks being. Thus a man is said to be evil because he lacks the being of virtue; and an eye is said to be evil because it lacks the power to see well.
St. Thomas Aquinas
On Goodness in General - Summa Theologia

Evil is a word that freely gets bandied about in the popular discourse. The definition of evil seems to ebb and flow with the same relativity as its antonym, good. George Bush, Barack Obama, and Osama Bin Laden have all been labeled as evil by one group or another, but does there exist a true equivalency in stature here? Does one represent true evil better than the other? The answer largely rests with whom one asks. Surely the conservative sees the evil in Mr. Obama with equal clarity as the liberal perceives such evil in Mr. Bush; while nearly all conclude that Bin Laden fits the bill as the personification of evil.

It begs the question that if evil can be so subjective, how can good be absolute? It stands as a legitimate question that left unanswered allows one to traipse down the path of situational ethics. Traveling in this vein allows one to find, given the right circumstance, a seemingly legitimate reason to break any one of God's covenental, Ten Commandments.

The answer lies within the fact that God is good, and that which He creates is good, and as Genesis proclaims, when He created man it was very good. Such exists the wonderous simplicity of Our Heavenly Father's plan. For God did not create evil to accompany good, but rather gifted free will to accept good or not.

The lower discipline of science provides good examples of this within the physical world. For example, one cannot create dark in and of itself. For darkness exists only when one devoids a space of light. Similarly, one cannot create cold. Such a state merely conveniently describes a condition where heat has been removed.

Evil functions in much the same way. For as Aquinas points out in the above passage, a being, meaning a soul, does not possess evil, but rather it lacks virtue. And it is not as if such virtue is unavailable to the soul. Indeed, the soul chooses the virtuous path or not.

For the believer, these virtues are clearly defined in sacred scripture, sacred tradition, and the successors of St. Peter, but even the non-believer has an indelible sense within his being of what is right and wrong at the most primitive level. The Bushmen of the Kalahari in Southern Africa, keenly described in Michener's book The Covenant and nicely juxtaposed to modern society in the classic film The God's Must Be Crazy, have existed in a state of peace for perhaps as long as 20,000 years, largely by retaining the good that God has given them and their propensity to give that good to each other.

This people, who perhaps exist as a living icon as to how man should live with his neighbor, most likely lack the ability to comprehend why Jdi Mytai D'Amour had to die, yesterday. Mr. D' Amour was a 34-year old stock clerk at a Long Island, New York Wal-Mart. He was trampled to death when a herd of Black Friday shoppers stampeded through the doors of the store where he worked in their frenzy to save a few bucks on some meaningless material things. Consider that ten years from now, probably less, nearly every item purchased at that store will be either in the landfill or taking up space in a basement or attic; that nothing sought after by these mad consumers will appreciate in value. Set against the value of a single human life, one struggles to wrap one's mind around the mentality that places the temporal material item over the life of a man.

Good was not chosen in this event at the Wal-Mart leaving evil to fill the space. The fruit of this poverty was that a man had to die.

Yet one should not despair that this world is an evil place. The world is good, and that good has incredible power over evil. For while good and evil are opposites, they are not equal in weight. Evil does not self-generate, it simply resides where good is lacking. Good, on the other hand, builds upon itself and always triumphs over evil. Not that one gets spared suffering and even some defeats along the way, but with perseverance, good always defeats evil as light defeats the darkness; as the love of God incarnated in His son Our Lord Jesus Christ defeated death by giving his life.

As the believer enters into Advent, let all find the simple ways to inject more good into the every day situations and allow the light of that Christmas star shine all the more bright.


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