Gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.
~ GK Chesterton

Friday, September 12, 2014

7QT: John 6: 60 & Sayings that are Hard

Something came up in the news recently that caused Catholics to take a look at the difference between taking a stand for one’s belief system versus reaching out to others with differing beliefs.  I don’t want to focus on that one event, for that issue is but one of many similar issues that are constantly coming up.

~  ONE  ~
First thoughts, all mine.

Jesus made himself available to all people.  Certainly, he had words for the scribes and Pharisees.  I’ve heard it from liberal-leaning friends.  The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath (Mark 2: 27).  Don’t place the burden of your stringent rules on a man’s shoulders that he cannot bear (Matthew 23: 4).  Guess what?  Christianity is hard.  A secular humanist who is doing his best to live an upstanding life will find it hard, too.  To say that “rules are too hard and burdensome, you Pharisee” is to neglect one of the (many!) important parts of John 6, where Jesus lost follows because the things he taught were too hard.  Notice that Jesus didn’t run after them, to soothe their hurt feelings; he stuck to his guns.

Of course, Jesus interacted with the tax collectors and adulterers.  However, the Bible is fairly clear that we sinners are to repent and sin no more.  See John 8:11 or John 5: 14, for example – go, sin no more.  Matthew 9: 9-13 shows that Jesus called sinners, not to affirm them in their deeply held feelings, but to enlighten them!

~  TWO  ~
GK Chesterton

“Tolerance is the virtue of the man without convictions.”

“To have a right to do a thing is not at all the same as to be right in doing it.”

“Men do not differ much about what things they will call evils; they differ enormously about what evils they will call excusable.”

~  THREE  ~
St. John Chrysostom

‘He who is not angry, whereas he has cause to be, sins. For unreasonable patience is the hotbed of many vices, it fosters negligence, and incites not only the wicked but the good to do wrong.’

~  FOUR  ~

People make mistakes. We are not angels. People sin. People suffer. That doesn’t mean we lie to them about what sin is and what their state is. No. We tell them the truth and then, with great concern and compassion, help them with clear teaching, a strong and certain Catholic identity, the sacraments Christ gave us as the ordinary means of our salvation, and encouragement.

We sinners move forward, up the hard, rocky, thorny, path and we refuse the smooth, broad and seemingly easier path down to Hell.

~  FIVE  ~
September 7, 2014

Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reading 1 ez 33:7-9
Thus says the LORD:
You, son of man, I have appointed watchman for the house of Israel;
when you hear me say anything, you shall warn them for me.
If I tell the wicked, “O wicked one, you shall surely die, ”
and you do not speak out to dissuade the wicked from his way,
the wicked shall die for his guilt,
but I will hold you responsible for his death.
But if you warn the wicked,
trying to turn him from his way,
and he refuses to turn from his way,
he shall die for his guilt,
but you shall save yourself.

Reading 2 rom 13:8-10
Brothers and sisters:
Owe nothing to anyone, except to love one another;
for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.
The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery;
you shall not kill; you shall not steal; you shall not covet, ”
and whatever other commandment there may be,
are summed up in this saying, namely,
“You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
Love does no evil to the neighbor;
hence, love is the fulfillment of the law.

Gospel mt 18:15-20
Jesus said to his disciples:
“If your brother sins against you,
go and tell him his fault between you and him alone.
If he listens to you, you have won over your brother.
If he does not listen,
take one or two others along with you,
so that ‘every fact may be established
on the testimony of two or three witnesses.’
If he refuses to listen to them, tell the church.
If he refuses to listen even to the church,
then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector.
Amen, I say to you,
whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven,
and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
Again, amen, I say to you,
if two of you agree on earth
about anything for which they are to pray,
it shall be granted to them by my heavenly Father.
For where two or three are gathered together in my name,
there am I in the midst of them.”

~  SIX  ~

Swimming against the tide means limiting one’s access to positions of prestige and power in society. It means that those who choose to live by the Catholic faith will not be welcomed as political candidates to national office, will not sit on editorial boards of major newspapers, will not be at home on most university faculties, will not have successful careers as actors and entertainers. Nor will their children, who will also be suspect. Since all public institutions, no matter who owns or operates them, will be agents of the government and conform their activities to the demands of the official religion, the practice of medicine and law will become more difficult for faithful Catholics. It already means in some States that those who run businesses must conform their activities to the official religion or be fined, as Christians and Jews are fined for their religion in countries governed by Sharia law.

~  SEVEN  ~
September 10, 2014

Gospel lk 6:20-26
Raising his eyes toward his disciples Jesus said:
“Blessed are you who are poor,
for the Kingdom of God is yours.
Blessed are you who are now hungry,
for you will be satisfied.
Blessed are you who are now weeping,
for you will laugh.
Blessed are you when people hate you,
and when they exclude and insult you,
and denounce your name as evil
on account of the Son of Man.

Rejoice and leap for joy on that day!
Behold, your reward will be great in heaven.
For their ancestors treated the prophets
in the same way.

But woe to you who are rich,
for you have received your consolation.
But woe to you who are filled now,
for you will be hungry.
Woe to you who laugh now,
for you will grieve and weep.
Woe to you when all speak well of you,
for their ancestors treated the false
prophets in this way.”

Me, again

The order of the quick-takes is not random.  There’s a progression.  I mean to show that carte blanche tolerance isn’t necessarily charity, it could be cowardice.  And it is clear from even a sola scriptura point of view (which I don’t hold, so I also tossed in some tradition quotes, as well) that we’ve been instructed from Old Testament times of the necessity of fraternal correction.  Finally, we need to understand that persecution of various sorts will happen as a result of standing up for one’s beliefs.  Jesus told us it would happen.  Better persecuted and looked down by society than to be caught lukewarm.  (Revelation 3: 16)

Another Friday, another 7 Quick Takes!


  1. Had a couple of thoughts:

    "Notice that Jesus didn’t run after them, to soothe their hurt feelings; he stuck to his guns."

    I think the thing that made Jesus able to do this successfully--i.e., some people did follow him--was the fact that he had relationships, and people could really see him acting in integrity and righteousness.

    "That doesn’t mean we lie to them about what sin is and what their state is. No. We tell them the truth and then, with great concern and compassion, help them with clear teaching,..."

    I think this ties back to the first point, which is that when we approach people by talking and telling them what's wrong they feel like they're turned into objects of scorn. It's when we have relationships with people that they learn that we respect their dignity and they become open to hearing these words. I think we have a human tendency to put evangelization in the wrong order. No one has any reason to listen to us until we show by our actions that we are worth listening to.

    You're right about persecution, but I think we also owe it to God to try to evangelize in a way that can reach people "where they are."

    That Cardinal George quote is something else. Thank you for sharing it. Much food for thought.

    1. Hi! I saw your comment notification on Friday night, but I didn't want to publish it until I had the opportunity to answer. Because you have good points that have made me think.

      Regarding having relationships with people, I get this! I could write many, many, many, many posts about my past persecutions of Christians. In the years when I was far from the Church, of those who were practicing a faith, it was the Catholics who were the nicest to me, who had friendships with me in spite of who I was. Two groups of Protestants (I won't name denominations) were more interested in telling me the state of my soul and I did NOT look kindly upon that.

      But I will add the following, to clarify my own feelings from what I wrote in the 7QT. I was hesitant to name any issues, as there are LOTS that could apply, but I'll share this one because it is my personal testimony.

      Once upon a time, I was pro-choice. I could be pretty vulgar about it. The human blockades and the graphic photos that were sometimes used by pro-life people really put me off and even fed my obstinacy. One thing that caused me to open my eyes and take notice were those who were not in-your-face, but were still NOT going to back down, dumb down, or soft-peddle their message. It was witnessing a pro-life student who took an unpopular stand in a political science class that brought me up short: seeing how he shook and was fearful of addressing the class, but he did it anyway in very clear, concise terms. (How I wish I knew who he was now! God bless him for piercing my armor!)

      Not long after (and at this point, I was creeping back to Mass attendance; sort of crawling back with a curious mind, hoping to find some answer to my spiritual questions) I heard about abortion in a homily. The priest said he knew what he was about to share was controversial, but he was doing it anyway. I don't even remember his exact words. All I know is that his willingness to go out on a limb to explain Church teaching in an intellectual way (not an emotionally-charged way) helped me to AT THE VERY LEAST respect another's position.

      There were no "nuns on the bus" in the late 80s, early 90s. But I had little respect for those types in my secular socialist days. They seemed to me to be trying to get in with the cool kids (and I was convinced the seculars were the cool kids, since they had INTELLECT and REASON and all . . . Whatever.) If I had been one to attend NOW rallies, I would have thought any clergy attending were either 1) cozying up to the 'cook kids' or 2) FINALLY shedding their medieval religion.

      In those days, I met people who were friendly and still maintained their well-reasoned positions on all the issues of those days. THEY are the ones who helped me in my journey back to the fold. I needed to see people willing to go out on a limb to proclaim what they saw as truth. They are the ones who helped me to be able to respect others' opinions. (which is ironic, since I believed, firmly, that I was all about tolerance.)

      I don't think I'm disagreeing with you. I just know that the person I was back then would not be swayed by the manner of 'reaching out' that goes on.