November 14, 2014
2 John 4-9
“I rejoiced greatly to find some of your children walking in the truth just as we were commanded by the Father.” (2 Jn 4). The early Church, just as today, was plagued by false teaching, which made Christians go astray. John rejoiced that some were still walking along the path of truth and obedience to God. Today, only a small minority of Catholics still adhere to truth and obedience. Many more are lapsed and non-practicing.
“Many deceivers have gone out into the world” (2 Jn 7a). They have deceived many in the Church and led them astray. Unfortunately, these are not just the cults, not just the Christian sects, but also teachers, theologians, seminary formators, clerics, religious and bishops in the Catholic Church. Who are those and what is their teaching?
A major issue today is the whole area of human sexuality. The world has already accepted contraception, divorce, abortion and same-sex marriage. The Protestant Churches have done likewise. Only the Catholic Church stands fast on orthodoxy. But the pressures are there, and inside the Church, even at high levels, are those who would go the way of so-called liberals, progressives or modernists.
But here is the truth: “Anyone who is so ‘progressive’ as not to remain in the teaching of the Christ does not have God” (2 Jn 9a). “Progressive” here refers to “one who goes ahead.” There were some gnostic groups that held that the doctrine of the Christ come in the flesh just to be a first step in belief, but which the more advanced and spiritual believer now surpassed and abandoned in his knowledge of the spiritual Christ. So John condemned “those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh” (2 Jn 7b). The rejection of such a basic doctrine resulted in a false faith, and thus one who teaches such “is the deceitful one and the antichrist.” (2 Jn 7c).
Today we have progressives too. They are rejecting two millennia of Church teaching. While Catholics have always held as serious wrongdoing such situations as cohabitation, divorce and sodomy, progressives are accepting these, in varying degrees. Now while bishops at the synod all profess orthodoxy and fidelity to Church Magisterium, there are those who, in the name of mercy and compassion, seek to “loosen” Church discipline. They distinguish between Church teaching and pastoral approaches, or between doctrine and practice. There are those who would look to just appreciating the love between two people living in without benefit of marriage, hoping that somehow that would lead to sacramental marriage. There are those who would give holy Communion to the divorced and remarried, even as they remain in a state of objective wrongdoing. There are those who would see good in and accept and even value the homosexual orientation.
The focus has turned to man rather than God. All the talk is about love, how if two persons, even unmarried, even of the same sex, love each other, then everything is OK. Indeed God is love, and the greatest Christian virtue is love. But “this is love, that we walk according to his commandments” (2 Jn 6a).
How important, nay crucial, is observing the commandments of God?
Thus, in our quest for holiness, we should desire with all our heart and strength to adhere to God’s commandments. “With all my heart I seek you; do not let me stray from your commandments.” (Ps 119:10). And so, with the liberal and progressive trend in the world today, and this also infecting our Church, we must strive to know the truth, as expressed in our age-old teachings. “Open my eyes to see clearly the wonders of your law.” (Ps 119:18).
Luke has an intriguing statement in today’s gospel reading: “Where the body is, there also the vultures will gather.” (Lk 17:36b). The counterpart passage in Matthew is as follows: “Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.” (Mt 24:28). Both are in the context of the end of time. Among the many things happening then, “false messiahs and false prophets will arise .... to deceive, if that were possible, even the elect.” (Mt 24:24). Today many of the elect are being deceived.
In the name of false mercy and misplaced compassion, there are some who want to alleviate the situation of Catholics who are outside the mainstream, due to their own sinful condition. Sin, repentance, salvation and hell are no longer spoken of, but only “reaching out” and being “non-judgmental.” But Jesus’ teaching is this: “Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses it will save it.” (Lk 17:33). Those who seek relief for those Catholics who are in cohabitation, who have divorced and remarried outside the Church, who are into same-sex relationships, are just going to cater to their human existence, but in the end will endanger their souls. Those however who adhere to God’s commands, even in very difficult situations of suffering, are those who lose their lives on earth but will save their souls for all eternity.
What will happen “in the days of the Son of Man” (Lk 17:26b)? Of two people, “one will be taken, the other left.” (Lk 17:34b). One will be taken to meet the Lord in the air, while the other, given relief from a sinful situation in life on earth but missing the upward gaze, will remain.
If we look to Jesus’ commandment that “we have had from the beginning: let us love one another” (2 Jn 5b), then how indeed do we love those in difficult pastoral situations? By telling them it is all right for them to remain where they are, hoping that some day they might change? Or by telling them plainly that they are in sin (in a loving manner of course), that they need to repent, and that the mercy of God is precisely an invitation for them to repentance and to renewed faith in Him? Indeed, it should be the Church telling them: “this is the commandment, as you heard from the beginning, in which you should walk.” (2 Jn 6b).
The “progressive” might have the human person at heart, but “does not have God.” Here is the only truth: “whoever remains in the teaching has the Father and the Son.” (2 Jn 9b).
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