There are times when business and politics seem to be so riddled with corruption that no honest person can keep up faith in Christ while at the same time coping with the pressures of professional life.
That’s when a Christian may be tempted to think it is impossible to combine a life of faith with life in the middle of the world.
That Christian may even be tempted to think that anyone seriously interested in being dedicated to God means following the example of those monks and nuns of old who locked themselves in their monasteries and convents and developed a spirit of contempt for the world.
Beginning with Saint Anthony of the Desert, 1800 years ago, there have always been Christians who felt called by God to abandon the world.
Do not doubt that God does call a few Christians to live that kind of life. They are a witness to others that the world is passing away. They remind us of an aspect of the Gospel that was summarised in the words of St John the Apostle.
He wrote in his first letter: “The love of the Father cannot be in any man who loves the world because all the world has to offer is the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye and the pride of life; and these could never come from the Father but only from the world.”
What led St John to condemn “the world”? In this world, a person can indulge in every manner of evil—especially stealing and lying—while being held in high esteem. Far from being punished for ruining the lives of others, one can end up being praised for being bold and clever.
Indeed, such people have to be quite bold and clever to make others believe they deserve to be praised. Jesus was not blind to this problem.
His description of the Pharisees was scathing: “Whitewashed tombs full of dead men’s bones and spider webs.” Beautiful on the outside but full of corruption inside.
I am convinced that the only reason this country manages to hold together, despite all the lying and stealing, is that many courageous men and women have known how to the resist the “lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye and the pride of life” at the same time that they remain immersed in business and politics.
This is the only way we can solve the crises of today’s world. Let us maintain great respect for those few called to go off their monasteries and convents.
But God wants many ordinary Christians to be deeply immersed in the affairs of this world believing that, with God’s grace, honesty and integrity are possible.