DECEMBER 11, 2016
This week the two sisters of Divine Mercy led us through the Advent Parish Mission. They said that it’s as easy as ABC to live a life in the Divine Mercy. A: ask for Mercy; B: be merciful and C: complete trust. They just proclaimed the eternal truth. They are the image of John the Baptist.
He was quite a sight, this John the Baptist. He wore clothes of camel hair, and had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey. He told people things that they may not have wanted to hear. He called people sinners, and yet they crowded around him. They went out into the desert to hear him. John the Baptist was so popular that his message was carried throughout the Roman Empire at that time. And now John was in jail, in King Herod's prison to be exact. He was there because he did what he had been doing all along: proclaiming the truth regardless of the ramifications.
The people at Jesus’ time wanted the truth. It attracted them. John fascinated them, because he was not afraid of the truth. Human history is cyclical, not progressive, at least in this matter. People are no wiser now than they were back in Jesus' day. Technology has advanced. Wisdom has retreated. The way that people form their own concepts of reality was no different in Jesus' day than it is now. People are still molding facts to suit their desires and needs. People are still using religion for their own personal gain. The truth is still very hard to find in our world.
Consider this, we have witnessed family, friends and neighbors twisting truths to justify every abominable action imaginable. I know you might not believe this, but I have spoken to a betrayed wife who was told by her husband that his actions really weren't adulterous because they involved a prostitute, or cyber pornography, not someone he was in love with. A drug user justified his action by claiming that drug helped him cope with family challenges! Some named a dictator who murdered thousands of his people a “remarkable leader!” But these are extremes. Far more important, as I have mentioned before, many people have discarded the belief that we will be judged by God according to our actions. The concept of universal laws has been rejected. It is brushed aside by a misuse of the word "values" so that the Ten Commandments have really been turned into the ten suggestions. People even within the Church have adopted the rhetoric of the pro-medical assisted suicide as a death with dignity or the pro-abortionists, speaking about a women's choice for an abortion as an excuse for killing babies. Imagine if Mary and Joseph, in dealing with their anxiety at the incarnation of Christ, had an abortion what would have happened?
There are very good people in our day, in our society, just as there were very good people in Jesus' day, in Jesus' society. There are good people who have had enough of the perversion of truth. They are attracted to anyone who will stand for the truth, regardless of whether it is popular or not, whether it is convenient or not, whether it is politically correct or not. Good people just want the truth. They don't want a reed bent by the wind. They want a John the Baptist who will die rather than sway from the truth.
Why do we practice our faith? Why do we come to Church? Do we come to hear a priest saying whatever we want to hear? Do we come because we want someone to tell us that sin doesn't exist, or that maybe for us this or that sin doesn't really matter? Or are we attracted to the Church because we want to hear the truth no matter how popular or unpopular it may be?
I am convinced that we go to Church because we are the people of goodwill, who want to be better people. I am convinced that we go to Church because we are sinners and like the people who went out into the desert to see John the Baptist, we are attracted by the truth. I am convinced that we go to Church because, like the people of Jesus' day, we are disgusted with those elements of society that pervert truth to serve their own needs. More than this, I am convinced that all of us want to be freed of the darkness within ourselves that threatens to enslave us in our own selfishness. The truth alone can set us free as the Master said in John 8: 32. And the One who carries the truth to us is the Baby born more than 2000 years ago, but his truth still echoes in his community. The question is “Do we have the courage to listen to him or not?”
Maranatha, Come, Lord Jesus!
HANDWRITTEN SIGN REPORTEDLY FOUND ON THE WALL OF MOTHER TERESA’S ROOM
People are unreasonable, illogical, self-centered, forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives, be kind anyway.
If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you, be honest and frank anyway.
What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight, build anyway.
The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow, do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have, and it may be never enough, give the world your best anyway.
If you find serenity and happiness, others may be jealous, be happy anyway.
In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.