As a flood of scandal pours through the internet and email on Pope Francis’ knowledge of McCarrick’s guilt in sexual corruption, my mind immediately goes to the texts and scenes of Jesus Christ who is charged by Scribes and Pharisees of continuously associating with sinners, being an intimate friend of St. Mary Magdalene, a prostitute, (St. Martha and Lazarus), having a notorious encounter with the Samaritan woman [having no husband and living serially [?] with five men, who converts a whole Samaritan town (Sichar), another notorious encounter with an usurious money lender (Zacchaeus), the slumming with Matthew where “he was at table in the house, that, behold, many publicans and sinners came to the table with Jesus and his disciples. And the Pharisees seeing it, said to his disciples, ‘Why does your master eat with publicans and sinners?’ But Jesus heard it, and said, ‘it is not the healthy who need a physician, but they who are sick. But go, and learn what this means” ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I have come to call sinners, not the just” (Ma t t. 8-10.
It seems that the real adversaries of Jesus Christ were the Scribes and Pharisees who were the experts in the law and moral code. Impurities, like those of the prostitute caught in adultery, or the Samaritan woman, were not where he fought the fight for living supernatural life.
Could it be, then that the whole Church is caught up in an ideology of sexual morality instead – which is where we examine self for serious sin – instead of the headier supernatural reality of service and love of the other which does not reach our consciousness as an area of sin? To be more specific, the gospel of the Beati tudes is the burden of today’s gospel to very large numbers of people.
He went down with them and stood on a level place. A large crowd of his disciples was there and a great number of people from all over Judea, from Jerusalem, and from the coastal region around Tyre and Sidon, 18 who had come to hear him and to be healed of their diseases. Those troubled by impure spirits were cured, 19 and the people all tried to touch him, because power was coming from him and healing them all.
20 Looking at his disciples, he said:
“Blessed are you who are poor,
23 “Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their ancestors treated the prophets.
24 “But woe to you who are rich,
Consider the inequality of wealth and of poverty in the global society of today:
United States 5854
Hong Kong 678
United Kingdom 549
Consider the outcry on the sins of Theodore McCarrick and not a peep on third trimester or post natal abortion or the sins against nations by the Clintons while in power.
So, what am I saying? The majority in the Church have exchanged the holiness (faith) of self-gift in ordinary life (work and family) proclaimed by Jesus Christ for an ideology of morality. I copy Pope Francis for his own critique of what is happening:
The call to holiness, not mere morality in “Gaudete et Exultate” – “16. This holiness to which the Lord calls you will grow through small gestures. Here is an example: a woman goes shopping, she meets a neighbour and they begin to speak, and the gossip starts. But she says in her heart: “No, I will not speak badly of anyone”. This is a step forward in holiness. Later, at home, one of her children wants to talk to her about his hopes and dreams, and even though she is tired, she sits down and listens with patience and love. That is another sacrifice that brings holiness. Later she experiences some anxiety, but recalling the love of the Virgin Mary, she takes her rosary and prays with faith. Yet another path of holiness. Later still, she goes out onto the street, encounters a poor person and stops to say a kind word to him. One more step.”
35. Here I would like to mention two false forms of holiness that can lead us astray: gnosticism and pelagianism. They are two heresies from early Christian times, yet they continue to plague us. In our times too, many Christians, perhaps without realizing it, can be seduced by these deceptive ideas, which reflect an anthropocentric immanentism disguised as Catholic truth. Let us take a look at these two forms of doctrinal or disciplinary security that give rise “toa narcissistic and authoritarian elitism, whereby instead of evangelizing, one analyses and classifies others, and instead of opening the door to grace, one exhausts his or her energies in inspecting and verifying. In neither case is one really concerned about Jesus Christ or others”.
36. Gnosticism presumes “a purely subjective faith whose only interest is a certain experience or a set of ideas and bits of information which are meant to console and enlighten, but which ultimately keep one imprisoned in his or her own thoughts and feelings”.
37. Thanks be to God, throughout the history of the Church it has always been clear that a person’s perfection is measured not by the information or knowledge they possess, but by the depth of their charity. “Gnostics” do not understand this, because they judge others based on their ability to understand the complexity of certain doctrines. They think of the intellect as separate from the flesh, and thus become incapable of touching Christ’s suffering flesh in others, locked up as they are in an encyclopaedia of abstractions. In the end, by disembodying the mystery, they prefer “a God without Christ, a Christ without the Church, a Church without her people”.
38. Certainly this is a superficial conceit: there is much movement on the surface, but the mind is neither deeply moved nor affected. Still, gnosticism exercises a deceptive attraction for some people, since the gnostic approach is strict and allegedly pure, and can appear to possess a certain harmony or order that encompasses everything.
39. Here we have to be careful. I am not referring to a rationalism inimical to Christian faith. It can be present within the Church, both among the laity in parishes and teachers of philosophy and theology in centres of formation. Gnostics think that their explanations can make the entirety of the faith and the Gospel perfectly comprehensible. They absolutize their own theories and force others to submit to their way of thinking. A healthy and humble use of reason in order to reflect on the theological and moral teaching of the Gospel is one thing. It is another to reduce Jesus’ teaching to a cold and harsh logic that seeks to dominate everything.
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Let’s go another step. I just continued on in reading St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans where he is speaking of the duties of Christians. He is talking about the sanctity of ordinary life of a Christian which is The Way of the God-man, a divinized life. Paul is talking about Life, not simply snapshots of moral action that we identify as the paradigm of Christian Life and which are a narrowing, a reduction, a clericalism.
Romans 12: “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position.[a] Do not be conceited.
17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,”[b]says the Lord. 20 On the contrary:
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”[c]
21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.