Acts 5 and Consequentialism

Acts of the Apostles, chapter 5.  What happened leading up to it?

The Lord poured out His Holy Spirit.  Peter preached on the Temple steps.  He explained to the pilgrims how Christ had fulfilled all the promises made to Abraham and the prophets.  Miraculous signs and wonders ensued, in the name of Jesus.  Thousands came to believe.

Then the high court decided to investigate.

Helen  Mirren Eye in the Sky

Now, people who study the daily-Mass readings deserve a perk.  Just so happens that we read from Acts 5 yesterday, and today, and tomorrow.  Also, we will read from Acts 5 at Mass on Sunday.  But the Sunday Lectionary skips a few verses–the very verses we will read at daily Mass tomorrow!

Of course everyone knows what’s coming on Sunday, during the sermon at St. Andrew’s.  A quiz.

The quiz will focus on the wisdom of one particular member of the Sanhedrin.  The same rabbi who taught the young Saul of Tarsus.

Who holds the future in His hands?  God?  What about us?  Do we control the future at all?

Anyone ever heard of “consequentialism?”  In the mid-20th century some well-meaning priests got themselvses confused in the pastoral advice they gave.  Because they, either knowingly or unwittingly, became consequentialists.

Consequentialism is the moral philosophy of the technocrat.  The basic idea is:  Whether I ought to do something depends on the consequences that I anticipate.  If good will come of what I do, then I should do it.

Anybody see the problem here?  “The ends do not justify the means,” for one thing.  But an even more fundamental problem is:  We can never know for sure what the consequences of our actions will be.  We do not have adequate intelligence to take every variable into account.  Only the Lord has that kind of intelligence.

Which is why morality must operate according to fixed principles, not just projected consequences.  There are some things we simply can never do, even if we imagine all kinds of lovely consequences.  Killing the innocent, committing adultery or fornication, stealing, lying–no consequences that we foresee could ever justify doing any of those things.

One thing we can foresee, though:  Daily-Mass people will ace the quiz during the homily on Sunday.

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