29th Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)
October 16, 2011
Many have expressed their grief over the recent loss of Steve Jobs – for good reasons, for personal reasons, for reasons that may sound to some as right, and to some others as wrong, or at least, inappropriate, as simply a fruit of media hype. But whether we grieve personally or not, or whether or not we simply join the media bandwagon, there is no denying the fact that the man has more than just a few contributions to current, contemporary culture, and its love affair with technology.
Like I said in last week’s reflection, whilst I admire him for this and many reasons more, not excluding his visionary approach to running his business empire, I am not about to canonize him and put him on the level of the men, and the leaders, and visionaries that I truly admire more than I admire Steve Jobs.
The man has brought us gadgets that are objectively useful to millions all over the world. Quite apart from his obviously narcissistic and brutal ways, bullheaded and cocky as he definitely was in his being the top leader of Apple, in his capacity to dress people down even in public, and appear haughty and almost ruthless to many others who happened not to fit in his mold at the moment, the man definitely merits the appellation “great” for reasons that go beyond his possibly being the object of an orchestrated media hype.
If anything, Steve Jobs has become the poster-boy of what actually, from my perspective, is the core big problem that besets humanity as a whole, including those who are patently against him, and who dislike – or even, hate – him to the bone. I could not agree more with Twenge and Campbell (2010) who wrote about the contemporary culture’s being immersed in a “narcissism epidemic.” The “me generation” has taken deep roots in our times that the world now readily condones, if not approves, people’s capacity to place self before and above others, unmindful of their needs, their feelings, and their deep sensibilities. Whatever makes one get ahead, whatever leads to self-fulfillment no matter what it entails, is held as the utmost value to be sought after, never mind the collateral damage to countless others.
Secularism is what ultimately, this is all about. And related to this is genericism – the belief that ALL religions are the same, that FAITH is reducible to mere pious feelings, vague good desires, and an impersonal love for a nameless deity that is domesticized and made available through new age music, aromatherapy, incense and smoke, and crystals and nameless angels with wings fluttering in a permanent pious pose, and with HOPE reduced to a fuzzy conviction that somehow “all things will be alright” and that one only needs to “follow his heart” and go for the proverbial pot at the end of the rainbow.
It is nothing else but religion from the bottom up, not from the top down – religion that starts out with man’s search, and not from a God in search for us, who revealed Himself; a God who came down to save humanity, and a God who became one like us to save us, and enable us to work so as to become more like Him, and live with Him forever in the next.
It is secularized religion that is earthly, and not much else, a religion that extols humanity, but ignores the divinity; a religion that sets out to create a god from man’s own image, so to speak.
The Good News of today flies in the face of all this. The readings speak of a God who reveals Himself to us thus: “I am the Lord and there is no other, there is no God besides me.”
“There is none besides me. I am the Lord, there is no other.”
We need to re-appropriate this truth in our lives. We need to reset, reboot, and update our inner postmodern attitudes that have been co-opted ever so slowly, gradually, but surely, by the secularistic onslaught brought about by technologism, materialism, and that pervasive hedonism behind this “me generation” that explains the narcissism epidemic of our times.
Yes, I admire Steve Jobs for many reasons. But I do need to clarify my sense of admiration on the human plane. But as a priest and educator, I need to draw a boundary line between my human admiration and the supernatural FAITH, HOPE, & LOVE that all go beyond the secularistic, earthly, vague, and fuzzy conviction of a better future that all depends on what a humanistic technology can offer.
Yes, there is a whole world of a difference between human admiration and adoration of the one, true God. We admire people for what they do. But we adore God, for what He is … In Himself … In relation to us …
In Jesus’ times, no doubt Herod had his own retinue of admirers and sycophants. He probably did his own version of good and great things in his days. Given this, the Lord was placed on the spot. He was asked a question that was more than a trap than anything else.
The Lord’s answer gives a clue as to how we ought to behave vis-à-vis such earthly realities – give everyone what is due to him. “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s!”
Admiration? Such may be due certain individuals, including Jobs. Adoration? This belongs to God and God alone. For He is Lord. There is no other!