November 14, 2010

ORDINARY 33 (C)

You will even be handed over by parents, brothers, relatives & friends….

- Luke 21: 16

Betrayal is a terrible thing, but we must distinguish between two types of betrayal. The first has its origin in evil, the other in weakness. An example of the first would be a frighteningly familiar story:

Two young men were arrested for making arrangements with a big-time drug dealer to import cocaine into their community. The 22 year olds would become the main dealers, selling coke to any & all of the teenagers whom they could interest in, then addict to, that potent drug. Since this deal crossed state lines, it was the FBI who made the arrests.

What made this story so shocking? It was because this case took place in Lancaster county, PA, the two young men arrested were members of the Amish community. The teenaged customers cut off from their drug supply were young Amish boys.

The parents of these young people were like every parent: stunned to think such a thing could happen in their community. If the lure & danger of drugs could infiltrate the cloistered, close-knit community that the Amish have intentionally built up as a bulwark against the sins & seductions of the world, what chance do any of the rest of us have at keeping our own families, schools & communities safe? Worse, it was not outsiders but insiders who jeopardized the safety of their youth & compromised the moral standards of their tradition.

But there is a second type of betrayal rooted in weakness. Bill Cosby has a famous monologue called “The First Parent:”

Whenever your kids are out of control, you can take comfort from the thought that even God’s omnipotence did not extend to His kids. After creating heaven & earth, God created Adam & Eve. The first thing He said to them was: “Don’t.” “Don’t what?” Adam replied. “Don’t eat the forbidden fruit,” said God.” “Forbidden fruit? Really? Where is it?” “It’s over there,” said God, wondering why He hadn’t stopped after making the elephants.

A few minutes later, God saw the kinds having an apple break, & God was angry. “Didn’t I tell you not to eat that fruit?” the First Parent asked. “Uh huh,” said Adam. “Then why did you?” “I dunno,” Adam answered.

God’s punishment for this disobedience was that Adam & Eve should have children of their own.

Children betray out of weakness – call it original sin, if you will – & they must be lifted beyond their natural self-centeredness to learn fidelity to family, friends, spouses, country, God. In short, the answer to curbing the tendency to betray is by training children to be responsible. But there are more obstacles today due to the tendency to down play sin & absolve people by hiding in psychobable that denies personal responsibility. Self-esteem is now deemed more important than self-control. Practicing compassion as opposed to indifference, loyalty as opposed to self-fulfillment, fidelity as opposed to betrayal comes only after long years of training & example. Learning to be noble takes time, something we do not always give. We too easily let TV do the job.

It profits us nothing to become successful – maybe even a celebrity – at the cost of betraying our own soul, our own integrity. Integrity is the one thing no one can take from us, but we seem to give it away by the handfuls. Self-betrayal is the saddest of all. AMEN!