Tuesday, 16 December 2014
The Tax Collectors and Prostitutes: Who Am I To Judge?
‘The Church of Nice’ is those catholics who reduce the faith to simply being nice to everyone; not correcting them on their lifestyle choices but rather telling them that God loves them ‘as they are’ and ‘where they are at’; that they have a friend in Jesus.
In today’s Ordinary Form Gospel the Lord tells us ‘tax collectors and sinners are making their way into the kingdom of God’ before many a religious soul. This must be a favourite text of the Church of Nice, which wants to say that no matter what a soul’s treacherous activity towards their own people; no matter how immoral they are in sexual activity, such souls are making their way into haven, so ‘Who am I to judge?’. Another text much loved by the Church of Nice is ‘I do not call you servants any longer, but friends’. These texts, along with ‘Do not judge, and you shall not be judged yourselves’, allow the Church of Nice catholic to reduce Catholicism to simply being nice to people and ‘non-judgmental’; it allows them to be humanists with a religious veneer. But it allows it only because they take these texts out of context; to the loss of the fullness of their meaning.
Take today’s Gospel. Why is it that Tax collectors and prostitutes are making their way into the Kingdom of heaven? It is, Our Lord says, because they listened to the message of John the Baptist and believed in him; they repented and did not continue actively indulging in treachery or immoral sex. Rather, they converted and left their sinful ways behind. This is conveniently forgotten by the Church of Nice.
As for the texts on friendship, remember this: ‘you are My friends if you do what I command you’ (Jn 15v14) –and there are Ten Commandments to be followed, including Thou shalt not steal; Thou shalt not commit adultery and Thou shalt not kill. Yet the Church of Nice refuses to call cohabitation, contraception, re-marriage after civil divorce and same-sex activity sinful. That would not be nice. Instead, they tell such folk that Jesus loves them ‘where they are at’; that they ‘have a friend in Jesus’. No reference to Our Lord’s rejoinder ‘you are my friends if you do what I command you’. That would be harsh; it would be to judge.
Yet even ‘Do not judge’ is not the full story. We are actually called to take the plank out of our own eye first, so that we can see where to help our neighbour: “first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the splinter out of your brother's eye’. This text is not a proscription against judgement; it is a call to judge ourselves so we can help others see their sins.
It is true that God alone judges a soul (He knows far more about each individual soul than we do) but He does not forbid us to judge if our own life is in order, and He actually requires us to judge circumstances and acts. He tells us both when to judge (after having taken the plank from our eye) and how (‘judge with right judgement’). Most people know ‘do not judge’ but many are shocked to hear that Our Lord also said to ‘judge with right judgement’: it isn’t much heard from pulpits today –if at all.
The Church of Nice is in reality the handiwork of Satan; it refuses to call a spade a spade; to call sin ‘sin’ and call souls to conversion of lifestyles and attitudes. It takes a truth and distorts it, just as Satan took the truth in the garden of Eden that we are made in God’s image to say we can be more like Him if we eat of the Tree of knowledge. Thus the Church of Nice leaves sinners acting in ways and situations which are deleterious to their eternal salvation, which is not ‘nice’ but the work of the devil.
Judging must be carefully done. I tell the folk when they hear theft, violence, deceit abortion, contraception, homosexuality etc, discussed, to stay with “I” statements: ‘I couldn’t do that’; or ‘I can’t accept that’, because these statements judge no one but invite the question ‘Why not?’ We can then give the answer that proclaims the Truth while judging no one. We have, on the other hand, stood up for the Faith and proclaimed Truth –which has a power of its own. It is not enough to destroy false argument; the Truth must also be proclaimed.
Sadly, the folk of the Church of Nice judge no one and nothing except those that uphold the Truth –when they become decidedly not nice and very condemning. I often wonder if it is because they have such sin within themselves or their own past (which of us does not?) that it is easiest to proclaim ‘no judgment’. And while they may say every Sunday ‘I believe in Jesus Christ...He will come again to judge the living and the dead’, can they be putting their heart into it? And can they put their heart into saying they believe in One, Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church?