October 20, 2021
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Building a Life

Building a Life

An experiment was once held in which four small groups of people were asked to build the tallest possible structure of pieces of uncooked spaghetti, using only cellophane tape to hold everything together—and most of the groups were certain they’d win because of their talents and intelligence. However, the group of business students accomplished almost nothing, as they spent most of their time arguing about which of them was in charge as the CEO. A group of architects failed miserably, as they spent most of their time trying to come up with an aesthetically-pleasing design, instead of simply building the structure. The group of practical-minded engineers did considerably better, as they spent less time talking and more time doing. The winning group, however, consisted of. . . kindergarten students.

Instead of carefully planning a structure based on the laws of physics, they simply started building, and if an idea didn’t work, they merely stopped with it and tried something else. The little ones also did something no other group thought of: they asked the judges for more pieces of spaghetti to work with. The judges conferred with one another, and agreed that there was nothing in the rules forbidding this, so they granted the children’s request—which helped them win the competition (from The Up Side of Down: Why Failing Well is the Key to Success, Megan McArdle—as reviewed by Robert Verbruggen in National Review, February 24, 2014).

This is what Jesus means when He says “whoever does not accept the Kingdom of God like a child will not enter it.” Unlike most of the contestants in the experiment, we’re not supposed to spend our time arguing or making things unnecessarily complicated; rather, in imitation of the children, we’re simply expected to do what’s asked of us, while at the same time trying again when we fail, and asking for help when we need it. If we follow God’s commandments, and ask our heavenly Father for all we need, we can be sure of accomplishing our mission in life and achieving lasting happiness.

Atheists and other non-believers usually insist that we, and the world around us, came into existence merely through random chance—but our faith tells us that God created us, that He has a plan for His creation, and that everything which happens can serve a higher purpose in accord with this plan. The Book of Genesis (2:18-24) teaches that the Lord deliberately created men and women with a deep need for each other, and in the Gospel of Mark (10:2-12) Jesus reaffirms this truth, insisting that marriage is a sacred institution through which one man and one woman fulfill God’s plan for their lives. Furthermore, through marriage husband and wife can bring children into the world, in effect becoming co-creators with God of new life. Like their parents, children are intended to have a destiny of eternal joy, freedom, and peace in the Kingdom of Heaven, and are thus very precious to God—so much so that, as the Letter to the Hebrews (2:9-11) says, Jesus was for a little while “made lower than the angels,” dying in our place so that we might share His eternal glory.

In the last fifty years, our nation has recognized and responded to many cultural, economic, and environmental problems, trying to make life in America safer, cleaner, and better. For example, there is now much less pollution in our cities and our lakes and rivers and streams; buildings, airplanes, and automobiles are much more energy efficient, and recycling is widespread. All these are good and important accomplishments. Also, back in 1973 Congress passed the Endangered Species Act to protect animals facing extinction—another noble and important achievement. However, in that same year, the U.S. Supreme Court threw out all legal protections for unborn children, and since then over 62 million innocent human beings have been murdered in the womb. Supporters of abortion claim this helps “solve a problem,” but the truth is tragically different.

Mother Teresa once revealed that God had sent into the world the person destined to find a cure for AIDS—but because of abortion, this future hero of humanity wasn’t given the chance to be born. Someone calculated that, statistically, the many victims of abortion included 2 future U.S. presidents; 7 Supreme Court justices; 102 U.S. senators and 589 Congresspersons; over 8000 judges; 31 Nobel Prize winners; 328 Olympic medalists; over 6000 professional athletes; 134,000 doctors and surgeons; almost 400,000 registered nurses; more than 6800 priests and 11,000 nuns; half a million truck drivers; 134,000 farmers and ranchers; 110,000 police officers; almost 40,000 firefighters; and over 1 million teachers—and today there are shortages in many of these professions. It’s also estimated that the loss of income and production from these and the other victims of abortion have cost our society over $38 trillion. What so many people claim to be a “choice” or a “solution to a problem” is actually a rebellion against God’s plan for the world—and such foolishness and arrogance can only make things worse for humanity.

The Church observes Respect Life Sunday each year as an urgent summons to our nation to repent of its assault on humanity before it’s too late—and we as individual believers are supposed to be signs of the wisdom and beauty of living according to God’s design. True children of God do not commit violence against the innocent, attack them with hateful words, or deny their dignity and value as human beings, no matter what their stage of life. True children of God do not attempt to redefine marriage, defend sexual immorality, or reject or ignore the Lord’s Ten Commandments and the teachings of the Church. True children of God do not place their hopes in this world, live in a selfish and materialistic manner, or try to make religion and spirituality serve their own misguided ideas and desires. No, if we are God’s children, we will try to respect and defend every part of His creation, while living with a childlike attitude of wonder, gratitude, and trust.

Instead of constructing a tower out of uncooked pieces of spaghetti, we are each building a life—and one day God will judge whether or not we’ve been successful. Whether we’re married, parents, single persons, or in ordained or religious life, the Lord expects us to love, cherish, and protect His gift of life, thereby bearing witness in a society which so desperately needs to see the truth being lived out in a powerful and authentic way. As children of God, this is the mission we are given—and we and our world will be blessed only if we take this summons to heart.

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Written by
Fr Joseph Esper