“Seek good and not evil.” “Hate evil and love good.” St. Thomas Aquinas believed that human beings naturally sought what they perceive to be good. This is because the person of God dwells within each human being. And so St. Thomas Aquinas would believe that the two phrases, “seek good and not evil“, and “hate evil and love good” would be the natural way in which human being should respond.
And yet, after watching the evening news for only a few minutes, we understand that human beings don’t always choose what is good. The first reading acknowledges the reality that human beings sometimes sin. While we do choose what appears to us to be good, it is the case that sometimes what appears to us to be good is not.
Consider Adam and Eve in the garden. The book of Genesis tells us that they observed “the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eyes, and the tree was desirable for gaining wisdom”, and so they ate. Just as a little kid can be limited in understanding what is good, so too we as human beings can be limited in knowing what is good. Living on candy can be perceived as a good. But such a good short-term. It is only when we consider our choices in a larger context, that we are able to make the distinction between short-term and long-term goods.
So how is it that we “seek good and not evil” or “hate evil and love good“? Like so many things that come with maturity, the consideration of consequences can be one way for us to understand what is good for us not only for the moment of forever. God acknowledges in the first reading the importance of justice and putting us in right relationship with him.
We discover what is the true good by seeking to understand how it is that God sees the world. Put simply, it becomes important for us to discern what it is that God wants from us. This begins with the proper use of our reason. As we are told in the book of Deuteronomy, what we are to do does not require us to climb some high mountain or go to some faraway place. No, using our reason to determine the good things looking deep within our hearts to discover what God has put there.
Justice requires us to consider what it is that people deserve. In seeking good, and loving God, we are called to consider how human beings can live together in justice. What are the basic things that all human beings deserve? How is it that we can live the kingdom of God in our day-to-day lives? What ways of being too we need to adopt so that we can more completely understand and come to know the person of God, albeit in a limited way?
Faith and reason intersect in the Catholic understanding of theology. Today’s readings remind us of the importance of believing in God and thinking about those things that God asks us to do.