December 29, 2009

Homo Incurvatus

Fearing that if I started to preach on Simeon and the Nunc dimittis, I would involve myself--and torment the daily Mass crowd--with an overblown account of the whole Lukan project and end up at least at Pentecost, if not Paul's trials, I decided to preach on the first reading today. I concentrated on the very end: "Whoever hates his brother is in darkness; he walks in darkness and does not know where he is going because the darkness has blinded his eyes." (1 John 2:11)

To love is to think straight. If we do not love, that is, if we fail to bother to act out of a desire for the good, happiness, and flourishment of the brother and sister creatures around us, we are confused and our thinking is distorted.

This is why we sin even though we think we don't really want to, as in St. Paul's famous complaint, "For I do not do the good I want, but I do the evil I do not want." (Romans 7:19) Even though we know--or part of us knows--that it is not what our heart really wants, we continue to sin. Because we are not completely loving we are not thinking straight and can't make clear decisions about our behavior. We are the homo incurvatus, the 'bent over' human being who doesn't see the whole picture of light and goodness.

Let us repent of anything that is not love in our hearts and behavior, stand up straight, and see the perfect Love made flesh in Jesus Christ. Let us take care to fix our eyes on this Love, that we may always imitate the mystery we have received, and not fall back into confusion.


Anonymous said...

Father Charles, in the context of your post on today's homily, I read with some interest the message to the Brothers in the Province from the Provincial Council, which has been posted on the Provincial website. I noted the following passage:

"In our new world, God (if there be God) is irrelevant to whatever meaning there may be in life, technological progress holds forth more promise than moral virtue, and much human life is deemed to be “unwanted.”

Recognizing that you were a recipient of this message and not its author, can you provide some guidance on what may have been meant by "if there be God"? Thanks in advance.

Brother Charles said...

Hi Anonymous,

I suspect that the author is using this shocking parenthesis as a rhetorical device, to challenge the reader to ask himself the question, 'Do I really believe in God as I say?' or 'How much do I witness to a practical atheism by my own capitulations to the world's culture of death and meaninglessness?'

Julia said...

Thanks for the post, Father. It's a good one.

Elizabeth Mahlou said...

I am so glad I made my periodic stop to your blog today. This post and the comments have given me much to think about -- and I am every bit as guilty as Paul (and perhaps more so) of doing not the good I want to (and ask God daily to keep me oriented toward doing) and unintentionally doing exactly what I do not want to do but get overtaken by the moment. Ah, 't is broken to be human!

Wishing you a wonderful new year!

Warren said...

C.S. Lewis uses this turn of phrase, but in english, in Perelandra (Voyage to Venus) where he describes the inhabitants of Earth as "bent".

It is a good phrase, because the design of God is still evident, but like a metal bar, something that used to be true inside us, has got a little warped.


Brother Charles said...

Indeed, Warren. I think it's an Augustinian term by origin, but I know it mostly from Bonaventure in Itinerarium I,7.