4th Sunday of Lent, Laetare Sunday | 14 March 2021
And this is the verdict,
that the light came into the world,
but people preferred darkness to light,
because their works were evil.
For everyone who does wicked things hates the light
and does not come toward the light,
so that his works might not be exposed.
But whoever lives the truth comes to light,
so that his works may be clearly seen as done in God.
Brothers and Sisters,
In the dramatic series The Chosen, before audiences are even introduced to Jesus, they are transported to the town of Magdala to witness an endearing father-daughter interaction. Unable to sleep because she is afraid, a young girl approaches her dad, seeking comfort. Sensing her uneasiness, her father encourages his daughter to recite the words from the Prophet Isaiah, “… Fear not… I have called you by name.” (cf. Isaiah 43). After their warm exchange, the audience is abruptly transported to the city of Capernaum, 28-years-later, to view another stressful moment. This different and fearful scene cloaked in darkness and shadows is not that of a child’s imagination but one of a grown woman in the throes of a real crisis. Only when her male companion escapes into the light of day, muttering something about demons to a Roman soldier and yelling that the woman he just left has tried to kill him, do we get a fundamental understanding of the gravity of the situation. All this occurs before the first intro, even credits run!
Sadly, when given an opening, fear and evil still can produce crises in our present-day lives. While considered the least of the deadly sins, the pull of lust should never be underestimated with its insipid power to suffocate the love of God and enslave those in its grips. We need to look no further than our Nation’s growing addiction to pornography to qualify the sin of lust’s devastating impact on our culture and society. Though our first human response is to avoid staring down such evil –“sweeping under the rug” the sad reality of pornography, sex trafficking, prostitution, and sexual abuse, we will mistakenly dismiss the impact of these on our homes and our community. Unfortunately, lust, pornography, and all of its resulting brokenness are not a problem for elsewhere. We must muster the courage to speak plainly of such things and take the responsibility to become aware of their dangers. Did you know that many innocent children are first exposed to pornography as young as 8 to 11-years-old? A fact that is critical for us to accept but also confront. We must fight for our children by taking the addiction to pornography as seriously as substance abuse.
As the first episode of Chosen continues, Nicodemus approaches Lilith (formerly Mary Magdalene) with incense invoking Archangels.
“I adjure you cursed dragons, diabolical legions, come out!… In the name of Adonai, God of the heavens, cease to deceive this human creature.”
Though compassionate and sincere in prayer, he’s still unsuccessful. Did Nicodemus really see the person he was ministering to? It’s important to remember, addressing spiritual ills is essential, and there is always a role for the sacrament of Reconciliation. Still, prudence dictates addictions are also approached at a human level. Neuroscience is clear on this approach and confirms pornography impacts the brain with striking similarities to other dangerous controlled substances. I implore parents, grandparents, and families to connect with cleanheart.online and support the efforts to keep our children safe in their homes and communities. Thank God, we have access to competent and compassionate partners to promote advocacy and assistance for those struggling with this real addiction, such as Protect Young Eyes, Strive21, Regeneration Ministry, or Covenant Eyes.
As with all illnesses, prevention is the very best medicine. But for adults and youth currently struggling with a pornography addiction, let us not seek ways to condemn and increase their burdens, but provide access to our valid Physician in Jesus – who often shares this ministry with competent psychologists, counselors, and therapists. Sheer will power, or desire for conversion, is rarely enough. The humility to recognize the problem and seek professional help are critical steps to recovery. With that said, I encourage parents of youth fighting this addiction to see it as a disease and find professional help to support a path to recovery.
Not until the last moments of The Chosen’s first episode do we even get to catch a glimpse of Jesus. However, his first words are worth the wait as he proclaims with authority, “Mary, Mary of Magdala.” I call you by name! “Thus says the Lord who created you and he who formed you, fear not, for I have redeemed you. I have called you by name. You are mine.” The shame of her former life led Mary to adopt the name, Lilith. Despite this alter-ego, Jesus sees her true-self and lovingly calls her by name to seek and set her free. With joy, I’m here to remind you that Christ offers us the same freedom!
May Our Lady of Perpetual Help bring the grace of Christ to those impacted by pornography and help lead us to our Divine Physician who calls us by name, offers us healing, and sets us free!
Our Lady of Perpetual Help, pray for us.
St. Joseph, pray for us.
Live Jesus in our hearts, forever.
Rev. Michael S. Triplett