Monday, August 6, 2012


'Whoever divorces his wife and marries another is guilty of adultery against her. (Mark 10; 11)
[Same teaching in Matthew and Luke]

 9 Now I say this to you: anyone who divorces his wife -- I am not speaking of an illicit marriage -- and marries another, is guilty of adultery.'  10 The disciples said to him, 'If that is how things are between husband and wife, it is advisable not to marry.'  11 But he replied, 'It is not everyone who can accept what I have said, but only those to whom it is granted.  12 There are eunuchs born so from their mother's womb, there are eunuchs made so by human agency and there are eunuchs who have made themselves so for the sake of the kingdom of Heaven. Let anyone accept this who can.'   (Matt. 19; 9 - 12)
21 Jesus looked steadily at him and he was filled with love for him, and he said, 'You need to do one thing more. Go and sell what you own and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.'  22 But his face fell at these words and he went away sad, for he was a man of great wealth.  (Mark 10; 21-22)
56 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood lives in me and I live in that person.  57 As the living Father sent me and I draw life from the Father, so whoever eats me will also draw life from me.  58 This is the bread which has come down from heaven; it is not like the bread our ancestors ate: they are dead, but anyone who eats this bread will live for ever.
59 This is what he taught at Capernaum in the synagogue.  60 After hearing it, many of his followers said, 'This is intolerable language. How could anyone accept it?'   61 Jesus was aware that his followers were complaining about it and said, 'Does this disturb you?  62 What if you should see the Son of man ascend to where he was before?   63 'It is the spirit that gives life, the flesh has nothing to offer. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life.
64 'But there are some of you who do not believe.' For Jesus knew from the outset who did not believe and who was to betray him.   65 He went on, 'This is why I told you that no one could come to me except by the gift of the Father.'   66 After this, many of his disciples went away and accompanied him no more.  (John 6; 56-66)
This is a long introduction to prepare you to reflect on my position about what seems to be the prevailing opinion about the Mercy of Jesus.  This is not just among Catholics, but among Christians as a group.  It is not just in the pews, but occupies the pulpit as well.   I permit myself to use a sports analogy, "On any given Sunday..." you can talk to a Christian and hear that God is so kind and merciful that we can all rest assured that He will see to our Eternal reward when the time comes.  In the Catholic world that translates very often in this way, "God and His Son, Jesus, are all loving and they love us so much that they forgive us all our weaknesses.  When we go to Mass and we tell God that we are sorry for our sins and ask for His forgiveness, He forgives us.  Besides, there we are at Mass, so it is evident that we love Him too.  We make a resolution to go to confession when we have the opportunity.  God forgives us and He certainly doesn't want to exclude us from Communion.  So it is OK to receive Communion.  Oh, and yes, we will get around to that confession, don't worry.

Jesus was never so wishy-washy as that.  I have presented the three pericopes above to you to show you that Jesus is one tough customer.  Jesus never said, "Oh, that's really hard.  Here, let me explain it to you.  What I really wanted to say was..."
NIX.  When people walk away from Jesus, He lets them go.  He doesn't run after anybody.  There are many examples in the Gospel and even in the Old Testament.  God helps His chosen ones, He is always there.  His love always trumps the Law.  The trump, however, as we all know, is only worth one trick per hand.  Plus, and it's a big plus, you can only play it if you are straight with the law.   It is very clear that if we don't play the hands that He gives us as He intends them to be played, the Trump can have reached its limit.  
Start with Adam and Eve.  Consider Noah's son Ham.  See what happened at Babel.  Samson sure is a tragic figure.  King Saul sure got his.  David too.  God showed mercy, and he sure let them feel the iron fist that he carries in his velvet glove.
Have you read the prophets lately?  See what He did to Jonah.  Listen to the instructions that He gives Isaiah.  Hosheah had a tough row to hoe.  Elijah had to run for his life.  Jeremiah had to escape to Egypt.  You do realize that only one of the twelve apostles escaped a violent death, do you not?
Naturally, the love trump card only gets put on the table when it will fulfill the practice of the law.  It is meant to make the practice of the Law convert itself into a life of love.  There are many who are called to  make this conversion.  They feel comfortable holding the railing that leads them up the stairs.  As we see quite often in the Bible, when God calls for a life of love, abnegation and zeal,  the slave to the Law backs off and enjoys the comfort of the mechanical life of obedience rather than to risk the inspirationally creative life of love.  We see that every day.  So many are surrounded by the walls of the 10 commandments and never go further than following them.  St. Paul says somewhere, If that kind of behavior would be enough, Jesus Christ would not have had to die.  But the 10 commandments in and of themselves are not strong enough to save us.  We have to live a life of loving service, just as Jesus did if we are to make it through the Pearly Gates.  We have to go beyond the Law.  We, like Jesus, have to fulill the Law by injecting it with spiritual love.  That's the road to heaven.
Jesus even told one young man who had obeyed the commandments all his life from a very young age, ..."That is not enough.  What you have to do now is to go, sell all that you have, give the proceeds to the poor and come and follow me."  The guy walked away and never came back.  Did Jesus call him back?  No way.  He told his disciples, "It is harder for a rich man to go to heaven than for a camel to walk through the eye of a needle."  Jesus doesn't play games.  he doesn't negotiate.  He loves, He pities, He gives mercy, He forgives, He heals, He feeds his fellow man, He defends the poor and He preaches love for His Father in heaven.  Negotiate he does not do.  He does not expect us to do so.  Remember this when you go to my funeral.  It will keep you from crying.

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