Word Magazine February 1968 Page 10
“THE MOST DANGEROUS WORD OF
By Rev. Vladimir Berzonsky
‘But if you can do anything, have pity on us and help us.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘if you can! ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE TO HIM WHO BELIEVES.’” (ST. MARK 9:23)
Different from all the other of God’s creatures, the human is one who likes to find an orderly system for living. There must be some meaning to existence, some pattern we might learn, to guide us in understanding ourselves and our universe.
If their search for a system is scientific, then science is not as new as we think it to be; Adam and all his children are scientists.
We want to know. We hope to discover some unfailing truths by which we can guide our decisions. All our lives we seek an answer that will allow us to use the difficult word “ALL.”
The problems occur for us when we use the word “all” prematurely. We don’t know enough, and perhaps we aren’t capable intellectually and spiritually of ever being able to say “All things are – .”
How many girls and women have ended their lives in bitterness and hatred, because they made up their minds that all men are wicked.
There are men in industry, labor and politics who have no faith in the possibility of an ethical, moral society, because they are convinced, wrongly, that all men can be bought, if the price is right.
Civil rights extremists are those who are convinced that all white men are demonic exploiters of non-whites.
It seems psychologically that once a person convinces himself of some “fact of life,” no matter how erroneous that idea may be, he spends the rest of his life proving the fact to himself, even if it means a drastic distortion of reality. This further implies that he will refuse to allow for any exceptions to his rule; his “all” will not allow it.
“All” can be understood in two general ways: in the restrictive manner we limited beings generally, and too often wrongly, think of it, as we reduce our scope of reality to our narrow focus; however, it also has an expansive meaning, the way Jesus used it, when he said “all things are possible.”
The second meaning contradicts our restrictive use, and in fact proves us wrong.
Jesus announced the possibility of exceptions to our limited universe, those who can overcome the limitations of some peoples’ ideas. It means, that we can only say that many men are wicked, and many men can be bribed, just as many men hate other persons who are not like them. But we can no longer say all are like that.
Who are these exceptions? They are those like Christ, whom we call saints; they are those who refuse to be classified with the majority of people on earth; and we are called to be like them.