Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Tuesday of the First Week in Ordinary Time

(Hebrews 2:5-12; Mark 1:21-28)

Once in a while we see criticism of humanism from Christian groups. According to them humanism is the archenemy of faith because it seeks to replace the primacy of God with that of humans. But certainly this criticism is both wrong-headed and short-sighted. There are great saints like Thomas More who were humanists. Even Pope John Paul II was considered a Christian humanist. Calling humanism anti-Christian is like calling an athlete anti-intellectual. Such a label does not account for humanism’s possibilities.

Humanism endeavors to promote all men and women, not just the rich or the educated, but the poor and simple as well. It says that the value of the individual human must not be ignored. It is true that some humanists get carried away with these ideas. Secular humanists try to exalt humanity by denying the existence of God. Indeed, they attempt to turn humans into gods with the authority to make laws that are contrary to nature.

In the gospel Jesus shows himself to be a humanist. When a man who is possessed by an unclean spirit comes before him on the sabbath, he takes pity. Right away, he casts out the demon so the man may have his life back. The Pharisees consider the sabbath so holy that all regular activity must stop to give praise to God. But Jesus’ expelling the demon on the sabbath indicates that God is honored more by restoring humans to their full senses than by compliance with a narrow interpretation of the Law.