In the first reading John said, “Do not love the world, or the things of the world. For all that is in the world, sensual lust, enticement of the eyes, and a pretentious life is not from the Father.”
We must not carry thoughts of the world's evil too far. Of course it would be wrong to live just for pleasure, wealth, and beating out others; but people of this world are not bad through and through. Even people who seem to lead bitter, mean lives still have some good in them. Our job is to blow on the ember of their goodness to get it to flame again.
Back in the year 400 there was a British priest, Father Pelagius, who preached to great crowds, telling them that they had it in them to become saints. He was very like Norman Vincent Peale, a Twentieth Century Presbyterian preacher who sold millions of copies of his book that he called “The Power of Positive Thinking.”
St. Augustine spoke out against Father Pelagius, saying that even St. Paul felt helpless when confronted with his own evil tendencies. In Romans 7:19 he said, “I do not do the good I want, but I do the evil I d not want.”
While we go along with St. Augustine and St. Paul in recognizing our strong evil tendencies, we must also remember that we are God’s children, made in his image and likeness.
At Vatican II there was a division between the German bishops and the French bishops. While the French bishops gave us upbeat documents like the one on freedom of religion, the German bishops were more concerned with combating the evils in a secular world. Our last two Popes, John Paul II and Benedict XVI, sided with the Germans who saw us at war with a secular society. Our present Holy Father seems to be more open to the good in men.