DAILY CATHOLIC    THURSDAY     March 25, 1999     vol. 10, no. 59

Pat Ludwa's VIEW FROM THE PEW

To print out entire text of Today's issue, go to SECTION ONE and SECTION TWO
    INTRODUCTION
          Pat Ludwa, a committed lay Catholic from Cleveland, has been asked to contribute, on a regular basis, a lay person's point of view on the Church today. We have been impressed with his insight and the clear logic he brings to the table from his "view from the pew." In all humility, by his own admission, he feels he has very little to offer, but we're sure you'll agree with us that his viewpoint is exactly what millions of the silent majority of Catholics believe and have been trying to say as well. Pat puts it in words that help all of us better understand and convey to others what the Church teaches and we must believe.

          Today Pat questions those who spout or don paraphenelia with the popular WWJD insignia which means "What would Jesus Do?" which, in itself is a good thing, but has been misunderstood because those who wear it have misunderstood Who Jesus truly is and molded Him to fit their perspection of Him rather than letting Him mold them in His image and likeness.

WWJD?

      Almost anywhere you turn, you'll see it. Bracelets, necklaces, wrist bands, WWJD. What Would Jesus Do. A wonderful idea, bring Christ into our daily lives, make Him a part of our every day decision making process. One problem though. What Jesus would do may very well depend on how you view Him. Or more to the point, how you were taught to view Him.

      "Jesus was a social revolutionary!!!!" If one sees Christ as some sort of revolutionary, then one can say that Jesus would forcibly divest the rich of their wealth and redistribute it among the poor. (This is no joke, many priests, theologians, etc. advocate this) This puts Christ in the ranks of the Zealots, the social revolutionaries of His day. But Christ was opposed to this 'politicization' of the 'Good News'.

      "Jesus said to him, 'If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in Heaven; and come, follow Me.' When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful; for he had great possessions" (Matthew 19:21-22).

      Note here, Christ didn't 'demand' he divest himself of his possessions. Nor force him to sell all he had. He asked him too. What would Christ do if the Apostles jumped the man and 'robbed' him of his possessions, even if they then sold them and gave them to the poor?

      "Then he said to them, 'Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's'." (Matthew 22:21).

      "And Jesus went with them. When He was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to Him, saying to Him, 'Lord, do not trouble Yourself, for I am not worthy to have You come under my roof; therefore I did not presume to come to You. But say the word, and let my servant shall be healed'." (Luke 7:6-7)

      If Christ was a social revolutionary, is it likely He would say and do such things? Rome was the 'cruel, occupier' of Israel. Wouldn't a social revolutionary oppose them at every opportunity? Wouldn't He take His 'Good News' to the political spectrum to force change?

      This is what many Jews of His day thought He was, a King who would expel Rome and re-instate Israel as a 'world power' equal (at least) to Rome.

      We are told by many that Christ merely 'winks' at sin. That with Christ the 'law' (of the Old Testament) no longer applies to us. Yet Christ said:

      "Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfil them. For truly, I say to you, till Heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of Heaven; but he who does them and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of Heaven" (Matthew 5:17-19).

      It isn't that the law has changed or is abolished, but that we have a clearer understanding of it, through Christ. The Lord 'taught' His people in Old Testament through His Prophets. But from Christ, we get a clearer understanding of their meaning. Not that certain sins deserving death means we have the right to kill them, but that those sins bring a spiritual death. They 'die' by committing those sins.

      Though St. Paul speaks of not being 'under' the law with Christ, it isn't that we can ignore it. Rather, we follow it because it is written in our hearts. While under the law, we followed it for fear of punishment, with it in our hearts, we follow it because we fear hurting the Lord. St. Maximillian Kolbe reportedly said, "I fear nothing except sin." For him it was because sin hurt Our Lord and Our Lady.

      So, what would Jesus do when confronted by sin? Well, we're 'told' to do nothing, since Christ said "Judge not, lest you be judged." This is essentially approving of the sin by silence, or even defense.

      "And He said to His disciples, 'Temptations to sin are sure to come; but woe to him by whom they come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung round his neck and he were cast into the sea, than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin'." (Luke 17:1-2).

      He also said, "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).

      We hear it taught that Christ opposed established religions, the institution of the Church. That 'WE' are the Church. Yet Christ said: "Then said Jesus to the crowds and to his disciples, 'The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses' seat; so practice and observe whatever they tell you, but not what they do; for they preach, but do not practice'." (Matthew 23:1-3).

      Christ is confirming that the Scribes and Pharisees are the 'hierarchy' of the Jewish faith, that they are the successors of Moses as teachers of that faith. Not that all of them are good examples of Judiaism, nor even bad. Christ also, though He is God, followed the 'rules' of His faith every step of the way.

      He was circumcised, bar mitzvah, observed the Sabbath and celebrated the Passover. Went to the Temple to pray, etc. In short, every 'rule' of Judiaism, He followed and observed. Not to mention that He 'built' His Church on Peter (ref. Matt. 16:16-19) , and exhorted His Apostles to 'teach all nations' (ref. Matt.28:18-20)

      In short, maybe the WWJD bracelets should come with instructions. Because one first needs to know Jesus before they can truly determine what He would do.

    Pax Christi, Pat

March 25, 1999       volume 10, no. 59
VIEW FROM THE PEW

DAILY CATHOLIC

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