Morning Meditation on the Gospel
Just over a year ago, as part of my effort to keep up the practice of a daily morning meditation, I decided to take the time to read through St Matthew’s Gospel taking it one chapter at a time. I highly recommend this practice of getting to know the Gospels, with the Catholic caveat, that we are not free to interpret the Gospel’s meaning according to what we think it means, but must always bow to the teaching authority of the Catholic church.
In the document ‘Dei Verbum’, from the second Vatican council, it is explained as follows.
The Catholic Church is the Interpreter of Sacred Scripture
“But, since Holy Scripture must be read and interpreted in the sacred spirit in which it was written, no less serious attention must be given to the content and unity of the whole of Scripture if the meaning of the sacred texts is to be correctly worked out. The living tradition of the whole Church must be taken into account along with the harmony which exists between elements of the faith. It is the task of exegetes to work according to these rules toward a better understanding and explanation of the meaning of Sacred Scripture, so that through preparatory study the judgement of the Church may mature. For all of what has been said about the way of interpreting Scripture is subject finally to the judgement of the Church, which carries out the divine commission and ministry of guarding and interpreting the word of God.” (Dei Verbum 12)
As Catholics, we should all have in our possession at least one book which gives us the Catholic interpretation of Sacred Scriptures. May I recommend the Navarra bible series and also the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible with commentary and notes by Scott Hahm and Curtis Mitch. This is important because free interpretation of Sacred Scripture is what leads to protestantism and to the denial of certain truths of our Catholic faith. It is particularly important in our day and age when certain senior prelates, including many Cardinals of the Catholic Church, are teaching things contrary to sacred Scripture.
In my journey through St Matthew’s Gospel I paused at chapter seven, which begins as follows.
Who Am I To Judge
“Judge not, that you may not be judged, For with what judgement you judge, you shall be judged: and with what measure you mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why seest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye; and seest not the beam that is in thy own eye? Or how sayest thou to thy brother: Let me cast the mote out of thy eye; and behold a beam is in thy own eye? Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam in thy own eye, and then shalt thou see to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7:1-5)
Later on in the same chapter we read the following.
Beware of False Prophets
“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in the clothing of sheep, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. By their fruits you shall know them. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit, and the evil tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can an evil tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit, shall be cut down, and shall be cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits you shall know them.”
At first glance, there seems to be a little bit of a contradiction between these two quotes from chapter seven of St Matthew’s Gospel. On the one hand Jesus tells us not to judge people, and then he tells us to beware of false prophets. But how can we say that a man is a false prophet without making a judgement?
Our Lord himself gives us the key to understanding this, “By their fruits you shall know them”.
We Are Called to Judge the Deeds of Men
Let me take the extreme example of Adolf Hitler. To say that Adolf Hitler is in Hell, is to make a judgement of Adolf Hitler that does not belong to us. Our Lord tells us quite plainly not to make judgements of this kind, that is, about the state of a man’s soul and whether or not he deserves to go to Hell. On the other hand we have to be very clear, that what Adolf Hitler did, that is the ‘fruits’ of his deeds, was gravely evil. This is not a judgement of the man, but of the fruits of his words and deeds, and Christ tells us to make these kinds of judgements, not to condemn the man, but so that we ourselves will not be led astray.
This is a critically important and clear distinction, which many in this day and age of confusion, seek to blur. This distinction is also the reason why, when I have something critical to say about someone, I never give the name of the person. What I have to say is not a judgement of the person, but of what they may have said or done. My catch phrase is, that I want to look at the deeds of men, and not the men of the deeds.
Scandal & Gossip
Our fallen human nature seems to love scandal and gossip. “Did you hear what so and so said?” “Oh I always knew there was something about him! Sure what can you expect, wasn’t his mother so and so and didn’t his father do time in jail” We have all heard varying versions of this type of conversation but we must not allow this danger to prevent us from identifying the false prophets in our midst, otherwise, as our Lord tells us in Matthew chapter twenty four, we will be in danger of being led astray.
We see this danger particularly in matters of human sexuality where there exists a movement within the Catholic Church that is trying to ‘normalise’ homosexual acts. There are many who use the phrase “do not judge” to mean that we should not criticise or oppose those who engage in and promote homosexual activity, even when this is being promoted to children. Did Christ really mean that we should be silent in the face of those who seek to destroy our children? Such a suggestion would be blasphemous!
The Homosexual Inclination is Dis-Ordered
All this is by way of introduction to one of the great dangers of our time which is ultimately an attack on the family as instituted by God. A prominent priest in America recently said in relation to a book he has written, “Earlier, for example, the Catechism says that the homosexual orientation is itself ‘objectively disordered,’ but, as I say in the book, saying that one of the deepest parts of a person — the part that gives and receives love — is disordered is needlessly hurtful.”
He then went on to comment on what might be used instead of this phrase “A few weeks ago, I met an Italian theologian who suggested the phrase ‘differently ordered’ might convey that idea more pastorally.”
Order Comes from God – Dis-Order Does Not
To those who have not lost the ability to reason, it will be obvious that the phrases ‘objectively disordered,’ and ‘differently ordered’ have completely different meanings and cannot be used interchangeably. When the Catholic Church speaks of ‘order’ she speaks of a thing being in accord with how God intends it to be. Conversely ‘disordered’ indicates that a thing is contrary to what God intends it to be. Now apples and frogs have a different order, that is to say, they have an order which is different one from the other. That frogs do not grow on trees is not a disorder, rather it is an order that is different from the order we perceive in the orchard.
Claims of Order in Homosexual Attraction are Contrary to Truth
To claim that homosexual practices are somehow ordered, but in a different way to how heterosexual practices are ordered, is contrary to truth. If some people who are engaged in homosexual practices find the term ‘disordered’ somehow hurtful then we need to help them to realise that what is hurting them is not the term ‘disordered’ but the very homosexual practices that they engage in. This American priest is, once again, another sad example of the current trend where sentimentality and emotionalism replace Catholicism and rational thinking. Feelings are more important than Truth and this leads to error precisely because Christ Himself taught us that it the Truth that sets us free. Free to be truly human. Free to truly love, God and one another.
Sexual Acts are Not ‘One of the Deepest Parts of a Person’
This priest also describes homosexual practices as being “one of the deepest parts of a person, the part that gives and receives love”. How sad it is to come across a priest with such a corrupted and dangerous notion of human sexuality. The physical, or external expression of the love between a man and a woman, which naturally leads to the birth of a child, can only be an expression of true love when it takes place within the bonds of a sacramental marriage. The physical expression, in and of itself, is not one of the deepest parts of a person and those who engage in homosexual practices are not giving and receiving love even though in their disordered thinking they may think that this is the case.
Those who engage in heterosexual practices outside of marriage, are also not giving and receiving love, but in this case, even though it is mortally sinful if the three conditions are met, there is nothing physically disordered in the practice that the couple engage in. These distinctions are important because of the fact that certain actions increase the gravity of sinful practices which in turn means that they are more offensive to God.
No-one Chooses to be Same-Sex Attracted
With regard to persons who are afflicted with same-sex attraction we should be very careful and we should realise that these persons do not choose to be so afflicted. No one is born homosexual! God only created male and female. Those with same sex attraction are often times so attracted due to certain adverse circumstances in their lives but ultimately all disorder in the world comes on account of the presence of sin in the lives of men.
Distortion of Language
That this American priest would claim that a denial of the Truth is somehow more ‘pastoral’ is a distortion of the word ‘pastoral’. Imagine a shepherd who leads his sheep to feed on poisonous plants. Would that be pastoral? Or what if the father in the story of the prodigal son, when his elder son upbraided him for throwing a party had replied, “look you must understand your brother was just living a ‘differently ordered’ life from you? The whole point of the prodigal son story is that the younger son has left his disordered way of living behind him. The father rightly points out to his elder brother that the younger brother was dead, but now he is alive because he has turned away from sinful living.
Our Lord Himself tells us that there is greater rejoicing in heaven over the one repentant sinner, than over the ninety nine righteous. (Luke 15:7) Priests who seek to minimise the harm that the homosexual lifestyle inflicts on those who live that way and who do not urge them to give up their sins, are not being pastoral. This would be akin to the father in the prodigal son story sending money to his errant son in order to allow him to continue living his depraved lifestyle rather than waiting and praying for his conversion.
Powerful Movement within the Catholic Church to Normalise Homosexual Behaviour
Make no mistake about it, there is a powerful movement within the Catholic Church and within western society in general, to normalise homosexual behaviour. The time will soon come when I will no longer be able to write as I have just done on this topic. Already moves are afoot to criminalise those who speak the Truth about the disordered nature of homosexual acts and their efforts are helped when Catholic prelates become apologists for the homosexual lifestyle.
“Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall put you to death: and you shall be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. And then shall many be scandalized: and shall betray one another: and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall seduce many. And because iniquity hath abounded, the charity of many shall grow cold. But he that shall persevere to the end, he shall be saved.” (Matthew 24:9-13)
© John Lacken 2017
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