Sunday, June 22, 2014

Sin, The Mafia, and Us—A Reflection

When adoration of the Lord is substituted by adoration of money, the road to sin opens to personal interest ... When one does not adore the Lord, one becomes an adorer of evil, like those who live by dishonesty and violence. Your land, which so beautiful, knows the signs of the consequences of this sin. The ‘ndrangheta is this: adoration of evil and contempt of the common good. This evil must be fought, must be expelled. It must be told no. The Church, which is so committed to educating consciences, must always expend itself even more so that good can prevail. Our children ask this of us. Our young people ask this of us, they, who need hope. To be able to respond to this demands, faith can help us. Those who in their lives have taken this evil road, this road of evil, such as the mobsters, they are not in communion with God, they are excommunicated! (Pope Francis)


Dearly beloved, my wish is that, as the deacon just said, you may go in peace and find peace in your land…. In the wake of so much suffering, you have the right to live in peace. Those who are guilty of disturbing this peace have many human victims on their conscience. They must understand that killing innocent human beings cannot be allowed. God once said, “You shall not kill.” No man, no human association, no mafia can change or trample on this most sacred right of God…. In the name of the crucified and risen Christ, of Christ who is the Way and the Truth and the Life, I say to those who are responsible for this: “Repent! God’s judgment will come some day!” (St. John Paul II. May 12, 1993)

The public finds the Pope's words condemning the Mafia to be exciting: the Church is taking a public stand against those who do great evil.

The public, on the other hand, finds the words of the Church to be unimportant—or even offensive—when the Church speaks out on sexual or economic sins.

I find that curious. When the Church speaks about the crimes of the Mafia, he is warning the members that their actions are wrong in the eyes of God, and they will pay the price on the day of judgment unless they repent of their evil--they cannot think that their other actions mitigate the evil done.

But when the Church speaks out about the evil we do, the result is to either dismiss the message about our need to repent, or else to respond to the message with hostility.

But the same authority—given to the Church by Christ—that speaks out against the Mafia, also warns us that our own sins are wrong in the eyes of God and that we will pay the price on the day of judgment unless we repent of our evil. We cannot think that the other actions we do mitigate the evil we do.

I believe we can fall into the same error as the Mafia. We justify what we do, or don't think of it. Or we get angry at the messenger. (When St. John Paul II condemned the Mafia in Sicily, their response was a car bomb near a Church.) But these responses do not change the fact that if we choose to do evil, we put our soul in jeopardy.

Then there's the irony of the fact that a people who like to misuse Matthew 7:1 by saying "we should never judge sins," having no problem with the Church speaking against the sins of the Mafia. If the Pope can speak out on these issues, he can certainly speak out on the sins of the rest of us. Yet, the modern world cheers when the Pope says something they like, and ignores him when he says something they don't.

Perhaps people should think on that. Does one think that he is a person of holiness?  If so, why not consider his holiness and wisdom when he speaks on other issues? If one thinks he's just an old coot in a bathrobe who should mind his own business, why care about what he says on anything?

I think the ultimate problem is that we only want to hear the Church go after other people. Liberals want to hear the Church denouncing the evils of Republicans and their politicians. Conservatives want to hear the Church denounce the evils of liberals and their politicians.

Nobody wants to be reminded of our own behavior being contrary to what God calls us to be. But this is what we need to hear. Just as the Mafia members need to hear that their sins endanger their souls, we need to hear about our own.

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