Presently, we live in an anti-law, exaggerated-freedom culture. What do I mean by this? It’s not so much that we Americans see civil or criminal law as a problem; rather, it’s that many Americans are often dismissive of the moral law, viewing it as an oppressive, burdensome freedom-killer.
By Deacon Frederick Bartels
13 June 2018
In our gospel for today, Jesus emphasizes not only that he has come to fulfill the law, but that there are serious consequences for breaking it:
Jesus said to his disciples: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. (Mt 5:17-19)
Presently, we live in an anti-law, exaggerated-freedom culture. What do I mean by this? It’s not so much that we Americans see civil or criminal law as a problem, rather it’s that many Americans are often dismissive of the moral law, viewing it as an oppressive, burdensome freedom-killer. This most often occurs in the area of human sexuality. The trend of the day is toward demanding a freedom without limits.
When the moral law is viewed as problematic and treated with indifference, the solution is to promote relativism and dismiss the commandments of God. Consequently, many souls place themselves in eternal peril.
Moral indifference is an attitude that often becomes deeply ingrained in a person. It often starts when people are young, perhaps as teens, but, unfortunately, can persist all the way through adulthood, developing into a dangerous, anti-authority, prideful self-centeredness that insists on following one’s own “commandments” and wishes rather than the teaching of Christ transmitted by the Church.
However, it’s important for us to understand that the Church’s doctrines and Christ’s commandments are all rooted in the love of God the Father for his children. The commandments are like roadmaps to happiness. They exist for your true and authentic good! God does not dictate arbitrary commands as a severe tyrant-ruler, but rather communicates the truth about what it means to truly love, how to live the life of love, and how to experience the fullness of human life lived in union with God who is himself absolute Love.
The commandments are gifts of love, from Love, for the sake of love!
Our gospel today calls us to ask these questions in relation to the direction we are pointing our life in eternity:
Am I the kind of “Catholic” and “Christian” who claims to know and follow Christ yet selectively and conveniently rejects some elements of his moral teaching communicated infallibly by the Church?
Am I a “pick and choose” according to my own wishes “Catholic”?
Am I a “Catholic” who doesn’t bother to learn the belief of the Church because then I won’t have to deal with it? (Surprise alert: it won’t work).
Am I a “Catholic” who scandalizes others by my behavior? (If you don’t take scandal seriously, read Matthew 18:6-7).
Am I a “Catholic” who easily compromises my faith for the sake of “going along to get along,” teaching others to do the same? Do I call this compromise “prudential judgment”?
Am I the kind of “Catholic” who thinks I’m a canon lawyer?
Am I the kind of “Catholic” who thinks it wise to maintain relationships even at the cost of giving approval to sin?
Am I the kind of “Catholic” who thinks he knows better than the Chruch’s holy bishops?
Am I the kind of “Catholic” who just can’t fathom how God would judge me negatively for skipping Mass whenever I “just don’t feel like going”?
Am I the kind of “Catholic” who views God as a “Divine Teddy-Bear” of permissiveness who makes no moral demands on me?
Am I the kind of “Catholic” and “Christian” who talks all about “love” but says nothing about principles, conviction, and the sacrifices required of love?
All of us are in need of repentance, mercy and God’s love. Christ freely gives us the transforming and sanctifying grace to become a new person and to live in a new way. Let us turn to him in an authentic repentance, and, also, let us apply ourselves totally and completely, with every possible effort and assisted by God’s grace, in order to live the gospel life in its fullness rather than live a life tainted with moral indifference.
Let us live not as secularized, comfortable “Catholics,” but rather as committed and intentional Catholics who are true disciples of our Master and Teacher, Jesus Christ.
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Photo Credit: Deacon Frederick Bartels. All rights reserved.
Deacon Frederick Bartels is a member of the Catholic clergy who serves the Church in the diocese of Pueblo. He holds an MA in Theology and Educational Ministry and is a Catholic educator, public speaker, and evangelist who strives to infuse culture with the saving principles of the gospel.