Monday, 20 April 2015
...pleased some and displeased others. That, I suppose, is par for the course. Here it is.
In today’s Gospel we see Our Lord and the writer of the Gospel going to great lengths to prove the reality of the Lord’s physical resurrection from the dead. Our Lord invites the Apostles to touch Him and even goes so far as to eat before them. It was clearly important to establish the reality of the Resurrection because it is core to forming our courage to leave behind the attractions of this world for the happiness of the world to come.
It amazes me that I hear such things as “We know the ancient N’s did this because of a manuscript found at... and which can be dated to...”. It amazes me because while we have four Gospels and a number of apostolic letters, some of those same people free to question the reliability of the Bible and our Faith. One wonders why, and I can only presume it is because if they accept the Truth of The Faith they will have to give up living by their own rules in order to live according to God’s rules. And today’s world does not like rules; it rejects “external ought’s and should’s”. But the resurrection and the establishing of the Catholic Church by Christ are facts of history that we ignore to our peril.
Note too that in both the first and second reading there is a common theme: sin and its forgiveness. The first reading reminds us we are to repent and turn to God that our sins might be forgiven. Some people want their sins forgiven without their tuning to God, but we cannot receive something from someone to whom we have our back turned; we must turn toward them. Forgiveness requires a turn-around of lifestyle. The second reading reminds us that we can know we are at one with God only by keeping his commandments. So turning toward God and keeping His commandments are needed for the forgiveness of sin; the Divine Mercy cannot be received if we turn our back on God or if we turn to Him without changing our ways.
Now we all sin, and all need forgiveness. Some people do not seek forgiveness because they think their sin is too big, too grievous to be forgiven. That is not the Catholic Faith: the Catholic Faith tells us that no sin is too big or too heinous to be forgiven, for no sin can be bigger than God (who is without end -how can one commit a sin bigger than a mercy which has no end?) So always encourage people who think their sin is too great to consider the infinite nature of God and of His forgiveness.
Other people do not seek forgiveness because they don’t accept that what they are doing is wrong; they simply don’t agree with all that the Church teaches. But then, what are such Catholics saying when they recite the Creed and say “I believe in One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church”? The Church was told by Christ “He who hears you hears Me; he who rejects you rejects Me”, so if we disagree with the Church’s official doctrinal teaching we are disagreeing with God. When we receive converts into the Church they must recite the Creed and add “I believe all that the Holy Catholic Churches teaches and proclaims to be revealed by God”. If they say “I believe in a most of (or a lot of) what the Catholic Church teaches” I’d have to say “Well, we can go no further”. Yet it is common among cradle Catholics to hear that very thing: “I believe most of what the Church teaches, but I disagree with it on contraception, homosexuality, euthanasia (etc)”. In effect, such folk have lost their Catholic Faith because they have lost faith in the Church: if they cannot trust the Church in everything, how can they trust in her in anything –including her teaching on salvation? They may retain belief in a benevolent god, but it is not the God of the Bible or Tradition: not the God of Divine Revelation.
Today, let us take seriously the reality of our Faith as testified to by the Apostles and handed on to us by the Church; let us turn to God no matter how heinous our sins, and encourage others to do the same. God wants all to turn to Him and be saved, and we should want it to.