DAILY CATHOLIC MONDAY January 25, 1999 vol. 10, no. 16
Pat Ludwa's VIEW FROM THE PEW
To print out entire text of Today's issue, go to SECTION ONE and SECTION TWO and SECTION THREE
I am continually fascinated how Pope John Paul II can be so loved and so reviled at one and the same time. Soon, he will be hailed by throngs of faithful in Mexico and St. Louis. Every time he appears at St. Peter's, the ground is a sea of humanity. Even trying to get tickets to his Wendsday audiences are difficult to get. (When we were in Rome, he was in Africa. Oh well!)
Yet, in a way, we shouldn't be surprised. We've seen it, or heard of it, all before. Didn't Christ himself face the same? From the first, Christ was loved by many. Throngs of people came to hear him speak. Many out of love, many seeking guidance. Many others merely out of curiousity. Those who saw His message as personal calls for repentance sought ways to silence him, to get the people to turn against Him. Yet, one cannot doubt that many who heard and saw the Lord were changed by Him. 'Re'-creating their lives, picking up their crosses and following Him.
As long as His message was not personal, there was no problem. Pray, be kind and forgiving to your neighbor, were fine and well recieved. But those messages which called for a personal change, a personal act, these were rejected.
We are all familiar with Christ's exhortation that we should not judge (ref. Lk. 6:37) unless we too are to be judged. Yet, those who would attack this Pope (who use this exhortation to justify all sorts of sins) judge him constantly. "He's too old." "He's trying to drag us back to pre-Vatican II", "He's just head of a patriarchal institution.", etc. Why? Because he dares to stand up for the truth, straying neither to the left or to the right. He does not follow the calls to return to the days before Vatican II, nor the calls to the man made church of the 'spirit' of Vatican II. He stands with Vatican II, he stands with the truth. And like Christ, is beset with attacks.
Yet, he is doing what Christ calls him, and us, to do. "Take heed to yourselves; if your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him; and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, and says, 'I repent,' you must forgive him" (Luke 17:3-4).
How is it he and we can be 'judged' for rebuking our brothers and sisters out of love. when Christ Himself tells us to do so. The story of the adulteress is a good example. If the 'crowd' had merely pointed out her sin (I often wondered why they never brought the other with them) and asked the Lord to help convince her of her sin, there would have been no problem. Surely, her sin put her in 'danger' of hell, but it was not for them, or us, to say whether she was already condemned. THIS is where the crowd overstepped their bounds. After 'rebuking' them, our Lord 'rebuked' her, "Go, and sin no more." This was not forgiveness (she hadn't asked for forgiveness), it was non-condemnation. The time of her 'judgement' had not yet come, but He did rebuke her for her sin. "Sin no more."
While here on earth, our Lord didn't take polls to decide on a teaching. He didn't concern Himself with whether or not He would alienate people. He knew He would. He exhorted the Scribes and Pharisees to teach and act as the successors of Moses. (ref. Matthew 23) And He exhorted the people to act as the 'children of Abraham'.
So, when His time on earth was coming to a close, He gave His authority to his twelve Apostles, to teach, guide, and exhort the nations as He did. And to Peter and his successors, He gave the special task to teach, guide, and exhort the entire Church and to strengthen and confirm his brother Apostles (bishops). So that, 'he who hears them, hears Christ.' (ref. Luke 10:16) And subsequently, those who refuse to hear him, refuse to hear Christ.
So, the 'dissent' against the Pope and his Magesterium isn't merely a dissent against a man and an instution, but dissent against Christ Himself. Again, don't be surprised. Christ Himself warned us this would occur.
To His Apostles, Christ said, "If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, 'A servant is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will persecute you; if they kept my word, they will keep yours also. But all this they will do to you on my account, because they do not know him who sent me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin;" (John 15: 18-22).
So, as the Pope vistits these cities, let's not forget that we do not honor him merely for him as a person, but as Christ's Vicar (representative) on earth. He is the 'sign' of unity which makes us a Church. As St. Cyprian wrote; "If a [person] deserts the Chair of Peter upon whom the Church was built, has he still confidence that he is in the Church?" (On the Unity of the Catholic Church).
Today, we have a choice. We can be like the disciples who said, "This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?" (John 6: 60) and left Him or we can be like the Apostles who said through St. Peter, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life; and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God" (John 6: 68-69).
Pax Christi, Pat
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