Fatherhood and the Prodigal Son

All of us are to some degree afflicted with a tragically stunted image of who we are. This has never been so destructive in its intensity as it is in our times, when we are continually bombarded with false images of the meaning of human life, the meaning of the human person, and the ultimate destiny of man. We are saturated in anti-words, false words. In Jesus we have been given the Word made flesh, who shows us who we truly are and what we are to become. He does this not only through his teachings, but also by the witness of his life. God himself lays bare his heart in the total vulnerability of being fully human, to the point of permitting himself to be crucified. He was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, as the prophet Isaiah says. He knew joy, but he accepted the suffering of our state in life. He accepted it because he knew that in the passage through the eye of the needle, through the narrow gate, a great secret is to be found, that on the other side is a vast and beautiful kingdom—an infinite kingdom in which the beauty of God the Father is ever creating more and more beauty, more and more love.

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The New Totalitarianism

The word totalitarianism usually generates impressions of dictatorial systems which crush civic freedoms and negate the humanity of their subjects in an effort to achieve complete control. Images of barbed wire, jack-boots and thought-control are conjured up in our minds. 20th century literature has given us some powerful works of fiction which suggest a variety of possible totalitarian futures: one thinks immediately of Orwell’s 1984 and Huxley’s Brave New World. Common to these dystopias (utopias which have collapsed into tyranny) is the absolutizing of the power of the State, or systems controlled by the State.

Totalitarianism invariably strives to do away with genuine absolutes and to establish false absolutes in their place. Genuine absolutes are fundamental, ultimate, unqualified truths, independent of the ebb and flow of cultures, fashions, myths and prejudices.

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