The cry for moral imperatives

Father Eugene Hemrick

It goes without saying, Christ's admonition to let our light shine applies more than ever given the present circumstances. What do we need to understand to follow it?

First, we need to see he is pointing us to moral imperatives. Moral imperatives are the voice of conscience obliging us to pursue goodness. They include honesty, virtue, goodness, righteousness, respectability and integrity.

Christ imploring us to shine our light encourages us to foster a morally sound life.

When we are baptized, we receive the gift of sharing in Christ's prophetic mission. The prophets were known for earnestly addressing the evils of their times even though they risked their lives. So, too, does our baptism require us to follow their example of shining our light for God's moral order to reign.

A moral imperative especially needed for our disturbing times is truthfulness. The falsities we are experiencing is dumbfounding. Our new age of the media and myriad conflicting commentaries is confusing the truth. This is calling for our light to shine on truthfulness no matter the cost.

Father Romano Guardini tells why the urgency is so imperative:

"The truth of the word is ever more important. This is applicable to every kind of relationship -- above all to those upon which life in the proper sense depends: friendship, collaboration, love, marriage and the family. Associations that are to endure, to grow and become fruitful must become ever more pure in the truthfulness of each toward the other; if not, they will disintegrate. Every falsehood can destroy the community."

And it can be added: Untruthfulness, like a growing cancer, can destroy the very fabric of life.

Philosopher Josef Pieper points us to means used to falsify truth: "slight retouches, displacements (taking something out of context), discolorations, omissions, shifts of accent."

Some argue we live in a postmodern culture in which truthfulness, honesty, integrity and righteousness aren't what they used to be. They point to history saying, "This has always been and always will be. It is part of today's culture. Don't let it upset you."

Christ, in prompting us to shine our light, is encouraging us to be countercultural: to proclaim pure truth in an age that prefers matter-of-factness about falsehoods and to counter indifference with prophetic zeal.

Father Hemrick writes for the Catholic News Service column "The Human Side."