Sunday, May 6, 2018

A Different Approach

Benedict XVI, Homily, September 13, 2008
Homily, September 13, 2008

Scripture and Church history remind us that what we think is the reasonable response is not always what God wants us to do. It’s easy for us to focus on justice in the sense of God putting the smackdown on those we think are doing wrong. That’s certainly what the Jews were expecting in a Messiah. They were expecting a king who would drive out the Romans and vindicate them. But Our Lord did not meet their expectations. Instead, He spoke to them about the need for repentance and the rejoicing of the sinner who returns. He not speak about the evil of the Romans. Instead He spoke about mercy and the need to turn back to God—not referring to one faction, but to all. 

In this context, I was reflecting on the words of Our Lord at His crucifixion (Luke 23:34) and the words of His servant, St. Stephen (Acts 7:60). Despite the tremendous injustice done to them, they did not call for vengeance on their persecutors but prayed for God to forgive them. The reason this registered in my mind was because of the latest round of anti-Francis spin. As usual, it was a distortion of the facts and thoroughly unjust. The injustice angered me. I wondered how God would ultimately judge it.

Then it occurred to me that getting angry and wanting the anti-Francis faction defeated and punished did not reflect God’s will. While it is true that people will have to answer for undermining the peace and authority in the Church, our task is not to wait around thinking “they’ll get theirs someday!” Nor does it mean we have to act like the Zealots who were set to attack the enemies of what they saw as right. Our task is to emulate Our Lord and St. Stephen, interceding for those who attack the Church while believing they are defending it. That doesn’t mean we stay silent in the face of wrongdoing. The spiritual works of mercy include admonishing the sinner after all. But it does mean we don’t act like the Boanerges (Luke 9:54-55) when we’re rejected.

Yes, there are entire factions devoted to tearing down the authority of the Church when the Church does not match their visions. There are a lot of bitter, angry sites out there who act unjustly. Yes, it’s natural to want the injustice to be corrected. But Our Lady, at Fatima, said that many go to hell because they have nobody to pray for them. I think that we should keep that in mind: It is better to pray for those who attack and undermine the Church than it is to become as angry and bitter as they are.

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