The Prodigal Marxist

This Sunday’s Catholic Mass in Carlisle, MA, I just heard one of the most reprehensible homilies I’ve ever had to endure.

The gospel reading was the story of the prodigal son.  For 2000 years, this story has had a special place in the hearts of Christians, especially those who have found ourselves deep in sin, realized God’s anger with us, but felt too trapped in sin to reform.  In this parable, we hear about how eager God is to forgive and how he rejoices at the return of any of His straying children.

The priest today had another take on the story.  He said, essentially, that the younger son was right to squander his inheritance on prostitutes, because it was a reasonable protest against the unjust practice of primogeniture.  Rather than encouraging us sinners to repent and avail ourselves of God’s unfailing mercy, he encouraged us to take on an attitude of suspicion towards our inherited traditions, because they may be keeping us from living in true “harmony”.

This is such a noxious, arrogant, stupid, evil message, it’s hard to know where to begin in answering it.  Most importantly, of course, it turns Christ’s invitation to repentence completely on its head.  People listening to this homily will be fortified in their sins.  They will be encouraged to persist in a spirit of self-pity and self-righteousness, a chip-on-the-shoulder attitude of “society did me wrong, so I’m justified in doing whatever I want to get back.”  Second, there was the priest’s obnoxious way of treating “tradition” and “culture” as if these were dirty words.  It’s as if we were to regard our ancestors as criminals and our customs as guilty until proven innocent, rather than taking our traditions, with appropriate piety and gratitude, as communally-recognized paths to God.  I don’t need to explain to my fellow traditionalists how utterly wrong-headed is this contempt for the wisdom of past ages.  It would be bad enough for anyone to say this, but from a priest of a church that claims to be the bearer of a sacred tradition, it’s especially silly.  Plus, the taken-for-granted culture in Jesus’ time was not heathen culture, but Jewish culture, which Catholics believe was specially shaped by God to prepare the setting for the Messiah.  It seems that these “spirit of Vatican II” priests think Jesus came not to fulfill the Law, but to destroy it, after all.  Finally, there was the arrogant, ignorant attack on the practice of primogeniture, which is just one example of the tendency of these ignorant, closed-minded liberals to denounce other cultures without even bothering to try to understand them first.  “This is inequality; therefore it must be wrong.”  That’s the extent of these simpletons’ thought processes.  No need to understand that, in a trustee-family system, the oldest son doesn’t own the farm in the modern sense–the family owns it, and the patriarch is just the trustee charged with delivering the family estate entrusted to him intact to the next generation.  He has no more authority to split up or sell the estate than he does to exhaust the soil for short-term profit.  The position is one of responsibility to family members alive, dead, and unborn, as well as one of “privilege”.  Plus, in some cases, practical considerations make it unwise to split up modest estates into smaller units that might not be economically viable.  The liberal outsider doesn’t need to consider any of this.  He’s spotted inequality–that gives him the right to denounce it without further thought.  The United Nations is full of bullies who think this way.

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