Then his disciples approached and said to him,
"Do you know that the Pharisees took offense
when they heard what you said?"
He said in reply, "Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted
will be uprooted.
Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind.
If a blind man leads a blind man,
both will fall into a pit."
The Christian must be amused at the disciples' report in today's gospel, "The Pharisees are offended!" We've grown used to hearing people take offense at our teaching. Whether we're opining about gay marriage, divorce, abortion or birth control their feelings are hurt because they have heavy emotional investments in these institutions. In the meanwhile, don't say anything about guns, divorce, immigrants or killing by drone; someone will be offended. The Christian preacher should abide in safe, irrelevance: Did Jesus have brothers and sisters? Do dogs go to heaven? Is there intelligent life on other planets? How did Jonah survive three days inside a whale? No one will be offended because no one cares about such issues, and every opinion is safe.
Jesus explained the Pharisees' dilemma: "They are blind guides of the blind." Nothing good can come of that.
This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of Humanae Vitae. Human reproduction was not a safe topic in 1968. If it's safer today it's because most people, Catholics and others, have made their decisions, often surgically and irrevocably.
The crisis has shifted to a topic no one pondered in 1968: we're controlling birth and not producing children. We're facing a serious shortage of tax-paying young people as our elderly keep getting more elderly, with exponentially more health problems. Like many developed nations we have to import young people. But how many immigrants are Europe, Canada and the United States willing to absorb? True, we don't want them but without their children we are facing demographic collapse. And besides, no fences will be high enough to keep them out. Not even King Canute can stop the flow.
Birth control seemed like a simple, easy solution fifty years ago. Women would be liberated, families could prosper, abortions would be unnecessary, married couples could enjoy their sexual freedom without fear of unwanted pregnancy. Better living through chemistry! What could go wrong?
A lot of things have gone wrong, and they didn't start with Watergate or the Vietnam War. If we won't listen to soon-to-be-Saint Pope Paul VI, we might listen to the Prophet Jeremiah:
For thus says the LORD:
Incurable is your wound,
grievous your bruise;
There is none to plead your cause,
no remedy for your running sore,
no healing for you.
All your lovers have forgotten you,
they do not seek you.
I struck you as an enemy would strike,
punished you cruelly;
Why cry out over your wound?
your pain is without relief.
Because of your great guilt,
your numerous sins,
I have done this to you.