Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Will you die for him?

August 29, 2017

Memorial Of The Passion Of Saint John The Baptist

Lectionary: 426/634

One of the things I hear the most in every circle these days is "don't judge."   Frequently the justification is God is my judge and somehow sin is a private matter.   Who are you to tell me how to live?   What I do in my own time, my own home, my own relationships... that's between them, me, and God.   That would be lovely if it were true.  The problem is: sin always hurts everyone.   Especially for those of us who claim to be Christian.   Sin is a wound in a body that we are a part of.  Cancer of the brain is not going to improve liver health.  Look at the things that have happened with people in places of authority: from Priests to Coaches, Catholics to Protestants, Religious to Atheist.... they have abused some of the most helpless people in the most heinous ways.   Shall we say then that the wounds they have caused have only hurt them?  That it doesn't hurt the rest of us?  Logic and reason tell us that isn't true. 

Herod and Herodias were in a relationship that was taboo.   They were living lives of hedonism with desires that were against those designed by and revealed by God.    When John stood up for the truth, stood up for Natural Law, Religious revelation, and common decency, Herod put him in prison.  Why does it matter what Herod does?  Why shouldn't John just have kept silent?  Look at the behavior of Herod then with his own step daughter.   He lusted after her and she lost her innocence by asking for the death of a Holy and Righteous man.   Not only were they hurt, but all those who witnessed were hurt in some way.  Those who agreed with Herod were spiritually wounded.  Herod was the king!  He was supposed to be a religious example and authority.   Though he kept all the Kosher laws, he had none of it in his heart.  There was no change in the spirit and others suffered by it.  Then John paid the mortal price. 

We have only to look at the wounds that have been caused in our own society.   With the increased use of abortifacients, contraceptives, drugs, and various other chemical sterilization; sex has become something completely divorced of the creation of life and is only about the hedonistic pleasures of a depraved generation.   The strive for peace and compassion has gone from simple stewardship to a call for the extermination of the human species that the earth and its other inhabitants might not be subjected to our darker nature.    The image of God has been so blurred that people no longer think of themselves as loved and cherished, but as broken and in need of surgical and chemical fixes just to make them into who they would rather be.  Pornography has increased the incidence of oppression and abuse for women and men alike, and the top 10 movies at any given time show the extent to which this has corrupted even the minds of us who claim to be Christian. 

What is the answer?  Love Jesus.  Love him so much that your heart aches for him.  Love him so much that you are willing to be so counter cultural that people will call you weird and will accuse you of being backward.  Be so enamored with God that your life revolves around him!  Throw yourself at his feet and gasp and paint for him as if he were oxygen itself.  If every single person who claimed to be Catholic lived their life with loving Jesus at the center of it?   The church would be full.   Every project would be complete.  There would be no end to volunteers.  Our kids would see in us the answer to that yearning and desire that they so desperately are seeking an answer to.  They would know so well what Augustine was speaking of when he said " You called, shouted, broke through my deafness; you flared, blazed, banished my blindness; you lavished your fragrance, I gasped; and now I pant for you; I tasted you, and now I hunger and thirst; you touched me, and I burned for your peace."

In the movie the 7th sign, Pontius Pilate demands of Demi Moore "will you die for him?"  John the Baptist answered a resounding yes.  He refused to wound the rest of humanity by giving into the whims of a depraved world.  What is your answer?  How will you respond when faced with the choice of rebuking and aiding a reformation, or simply going with the flow? In a world where the life of children is given up for comfort, how will you respond?