A Giant Surrounded By Monkeys

Reading newspapers can be a real eye opener. Three seemingly unrelated articles caught my attention this week.

A resident of Yigo, Guam was saying on last Sunday’s paper, “When I asked my teenage daughter why she got pregnant, she answered that she was taught in her sex education classes that premarital sex was good; she also said that her boyfriend would have forced her anyway to have sex one way or the other.

When I told her that it was a sin to have sex outside of marriage, she answered that there was no such thing as sin; that everybody had the right to decide for herself what was right.

She even told me what is often stated on TV by an actor playing the role of a homosexual : “If you are not the person wielding the gavel in court, do not judge.”

Rather pathetic statements coming from a girl who is growing up in a largely Catholic island.

Another observation on a recent news related article.

I read with curiosity the various reviews on the movie The Passion of Mel Gibson which appeared on a local daily paper here in Saipan and I was really intrigued by the selective choice which the editors made.

Basically all the reviews published were negative (too violent, too gory, anti Semitic…), and all of them were taken from The Washington Post. It is common knowledge that the policies of this paper are influenced strongly by a rather sensitive and specific pro-Jewish lobby which is highly critical of the Catholic Church.

The question which came to my mind was, why this persistent negative criticism in a local paper on a blockbuster depicting the last twelve hours of Jesus Christ? Surely the editors know that Saipan is a predominately Catholic island. I saw the movie and found it impressive for its sheer beauty and stunning presentation of the Christian message.


Also this week I read about the record number of antidepressant prescriptions being issued to children in the US – in the year 2002 alone, nearly 11million, of which 2.7 million were for children 11 and under. This is an alarming trend.

‘Demands from parents and the pharmaceutical industry for quick fixes to children’s mental health problems drive a booming market that prescribes drugs for millions of children who don’t need them.” Shocking news if true!

This same article even claims that the FDA advisory board is discussing new concerns that antidepressants may increase suicidal tendencies in children when they grow up.

Obviously one wonders what is happening around us.

He was only five when, teetering at the end of a pier in coastal Connecticut, the boy screamed and sobbed and threatened to jump. As the boy’s father inched closer, the boy kept repeating “I do not want to be here.” “Where?” the father asked.

“On this earth” was the unexpected answer.

Obviously depression can result from a number of factors, some of them linked to brain chemistry. But still one has to wonder why life which is supposed to be a time of growth and joy is becoming many times a time of anxiety and depression!

I do not claim to have an answer but really….. if we eliminate God from our lives, are we so surprised that the results are so tragic?

St. Symeon the New Theologian is a very ancient saint. But what he wrote still makes sense. He claims that if we put God more in the picture, the results will be completely different!

‘When a man walks in the fear of God he knows no fear, even if he were to be surrounded by wicked men. He has the fear of God within him and wears the invincible armor of faith.

This makes him strong and able to take on anything, even things which seem difficult or impossible to most people. Such a man is like a giant surrounded by monkeys, or a roaring lion among dogs and foxes.

He goes forward trusting in the Lord and the constancy of his will to strike and paralyze his foes. He wields the blazing club of the Word of God in wisdom.’

I suppose this is the choice we have in life. Either be giants surrounded by monkeys or be monkeys surrounded by giants! If we choose the former then we shall conquer, if we choose the latter, we shall be defeated.

And Jesus said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” (Mark 4,9).

(c) Fr. Pius Sammut, OCD. Permission is hereby granted for any non-commercial use, provided that the content is unaltered from its original state, if this copyright notice is included.