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Socialism and Gnosis - Part II

Material Goods Are Glorified in the Parables

Cunha Alvarenga

In the last article we referred to the instrumental role of material goods before a higher reality, which is eternal life. Our Lord Jesus Christ always wanted us to listen to Him as spiritual persons rather than as material persons. But given that He rose from death in His most holy Humanity and promised us the resurrection of our flesh at the final judgment, it is obvious that under the light of this doctrine no one can sustain the Manichean dualist antagonism that exalts the spirit and despises all matter.

A picturesque vineyard

Our Lord affirmed the goodness of material things, such as a farm and its vineyard
Everything that comes from God’s hands is good, be it spiritual or material. The evils that afflict man come not just from the body, as the Gnostics affirm, but also and perhaps principally from the soul, as a fruit of original sin.

This being said, let us look at how Our Lord sees the life of men, that is, in their daily activities as earthly pilgrims with material needs to satisfy. The parables give us vivid and enduring pictures of this reality. Our Divine Savior chose simple, common incidents known to all to invite His listener to rise to a moral or spiritual truth.

The parables are usually simple and short, taken from the natural order, different from the long, complex, and cloudy Gnostic fables. They take advantage of common life events: a man works his field; another finds a hidden treasure; yet another rents his property and goes on a trip. There is always a material, concrete point that provides the basis for the parabolic sense, be it moral or spiritual.

Our Lord used to reach His conclusions by a inductive process based on real life stories so that the average listener could follow along with Him. Sometimes, when there were objectors or persons of bad will among His audience, He would veil the meaning of this or that parable and explain it only to a few select disciples. But normally the parable would flow with such a clarity that the conclusion is left to His listeners, as in the case of the workers in the vineyard who murdered the master’s servants and son (Matt. 21:33-41).

Our aim here is not to interpret each parable literally as a dogma, of course, but solely to show that Our Lord used those simple incidents from daily life to teach us perennial truths.

Social inequality

One of the false principles of the Revolution in both its liberal and communist facets is social egalitarianism. Contrary to this thinking, Our Divine Savior considered inequality among men as a normal fact that was not open to discussion.

feudal homage given by a servant to his lord

The inequality between lords and servants is legitimated in the parables
In the parable of the ten marks He said: “A certain nobleman went to a faraway country to take possession of a kingdom” (Lk 19: 12). Further in the same parable, He tells us: “But his citizens were bothered and sent an embassy after him saying, ‘We will not have this man to reign over us’” (Lk 19:14). In fact, in this parable He was prophetically foretelling the denial the Jews would make of Him. But what we want to point out here is that Our Lord compared Himself to that noble prince. We see, then, a tacit approval of princes and the inequality they represent.

In society there are normally those who serve and those who receive services. This fact was also tacitly approved by Our Lord when He taught:

“But which of you, having a servant plowing or feeding cattle, will say to him, when he comes in from the field: ‘Come and sit down at my table.’ Will he not first say to him: ‘Prepare my supper, gird thyself and serve me while I eat and drink, and afterward you will eat and drink?’

“Is the lord then obliged to thank that servant for doing the things that he commanded him? I think not. So you also, when you shall have done all these things that are commanded of you, should say: ‘We are useless servants; we did what we ought to do’” (Lk 17: 7-10).

Again, Our Lord is implicitly approving social inequality. There is not a single note of censure for the lord having a servant or for them having different times to eat. These are lessons that in more Catholic-minded times inspired the whole social life. Today the Revolution and Progressivism are silent about them.

Right to property and inheritance

Another point of inequality is the fact that a man has the right to possess goods and that one man can have more than others. Our Divine Teacher presumes this fact naturally on many occasions.

The right of property and the owner’s right to dispose of them as he pleases is presented as an indisputable fact in this parable: “The kingdom of Heaven is similar to a treasure hidden in the field. And a man having found it, hid it and in his joy went to sell everything he had to buy that field. Again, the kingdom of Heaven is similar to a merchant seeking good pearls. And when he had found one of great price, he went his way and sold all that he had, and bought it” (Mt 13: 44-46).

Clearly, these goods should be owned as something private, and not as a collective property. A corollary of this right of ownership is that the man can leave his material goods to his family. The right of inheritance is implicit in it. For example, in the parable of the prodigal son, the youth asks his father in advance for his part of the inheritance (Lk 15:12).

A depiction of the parable of the vineyard renters

Private property and inheritance are justified in the parable of the murderous renters
Where the rights of property and inheritance are even more strongly stressed is in the parable of the revolted renters of a vineyard: “There was a man, the head of a house, who planted a vineyard and surrounded it with a hedge. He dug a well in it and built a tower and rented it to husbandmen and went to a faraway country. As the time of the crop drew near, he sent his servants to the husbandmen to receive the fruits of his land.

“But the husbandmen laid hands on his servants, beating one, killing another and stoning another. So he sent other servants, a larger number than before, and they treated them in like manner.

“Last of all he sent to them his son, saying, ‘They will show respect for my son.’ But the husbandmen, seeing the son, said among themselves, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and we shall have his inheritance.’ And taking him, they cast him out of the vineyard and killed him.

“And when the lord of the vineyard will come back, what will he do with those husbandmen? They answered him: ‘He will kill those wicked men without mercy, and will rent out his vineyard to other husbandmen who will render to him the fruit in due season’” (Matt 21: 33-41).

In this beautiful parable, we see that Our Lord emphasized not only the right to property and inheritance, but also a man’s right over the land he rents. The murderous husbandmen prefigure the proletariats in Russia, China, Cuba or other communist places who sustain that the land belongs to those who work on it and think they can violently expel its legitimate owners from it.

Continued

Posted March 6, 2009
Translated from Catolicismo, June 1971

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