In the second reading today, we hear the words, “Brothers and sisters: You are not in the flesh; on the contrary, you are in the Spirit,” and then in the Gospel we hear Jesus say that God has revealed hidden mysteries to the little ones, whom He cherishes. These verses reminded me of the movie I saw last night: Sound of Freedom.
After seeing the movie, I was disturbed by the atrocious evil I saw. I’m not sure it will ever escape my mind, to be honest. One of the major questions I had after the movie was: Why? What leads human beings to traffic children, and frankly any human being? How has our world gotten to this point?
My conclusions: Too much acting in the flesh, not in the Spirit: money, power, greed, perversion, and sex. Not seeing the God-given nature of little ones, perpetuated by our culture of death. Global injustice and poverty also play a role in all this as well.
One can easily point fingers after this movie at these horrific evil doers, but I think we need to look at ourselves and our culture. How have we made gods of money, power, greed, and sex? How has the slightest and overlooked sins of our culture contributed to the reality that children are sold, and sold for sex? What is our call to action?
We have lost the truth that there is dignity in God’s little ones. Today God’s children are bought in many ways, not just through trafficking. Think about how that kind of culture of “buying children'' perpetuates evil. Children are being bought like possessions, not the precious human beings they are. Then, there’s our culture of death. God’s children are disposed of after careless sex, horrific rapes, and other thoughtless sexual acts all in the name of reproductive freedom and lack of self-control with our sexual desires. Not to mention, millions of God’s children are orphans in the foster care system, who are especially vulnerable to trafficking. How many of us are stepping up to care for the orphan? I was reminded recently in a podcast that caring for the orphan is a command of our faith, not an option. Lastly, God’s children live in horrible conditions and poverty that could be alleviated with more aid and generosity. Meanwhile, many of us live in excess and comfort: living in big houses, getting big paychecks, and taking multiple vacations a year. What are we doing to help the poor so they make less desperate decisions?
Then there’s our sins of the flesh. So often we overlook everyday sexual sins of looking at porn, going to a strip club, having multiple sex partners, drinking to excess and making poor sexual decisions, and so many others as small sins in comparison to trafficking. Yet sexual sin leads to more sexual sin. Remember one small sin started this catastrophe. Then there’s power. Exerting power over another unjustly is another sin of the flesh. Zeal for power or using power and manipulation over another can morph into something much worse over time - often verbally, emotionally, and physically violent and deviant behavior. And we all know the effects of greed. There's never enough money even when we have so much. We need more. We need to perpetuate our lavish lifestyles. If greed and power seeps too deep into our hearts eventually we want to grow our greed and power at any cost…lies, cheating, stealing, and corruption. We become desensitized to how our actions impact another human being.
All of these sins grow and expand in our culture to the problems we have today: a world in which women and children are purchased and exploited for sexual pleasure.
This is one big reason why the Bible hates living in the flesh and persuades us to live in the Spirit, and to see the dignity of the little ones. Living in the flesh perpetuates more fleshly behavior and ultimately leads to death. While living in the Spirit perpetuates more Godly behavior and ultimately leads to life.
What can we do about this problem in our own small corner of the world? What are our calls to action? Here are some suggestions:
1) Leave the flesh behind. Detach from desires and temptations for money, power, and sex.
2) Live in the Spirit and pray to the Holy Spirit for its gifts and graces to help you lead a Godly life.
3) Respect the dignity of our little ones who reveal God’s mysteries.
4) Don’t buy children, abuse children, or contribute to the culture of viewing children as possessions.
5) Consider how you can care for a vulnerable or orphaned child.
6) Cultivate a culture of life in everything you do. Admonish your own and others' sins that lead to a culture of death.
7) Assist in alleviating the suffering of the poor in tangible ways.
8) Contribute to rescue missions.
9) Pray for an end to this injustice; for the victims to be saved and perpetrators to change their hearts.
10) Help educate and advocate for the voiceless victims of these crimes.