Friday, March 15, 2013

The Line

I've been following through with my commitment to do a Bible study to help Catholics learn how to read the Scriptures, and tonight our group went through Judges, Chapter 10.

The chunk in there that really resonated with me was this (v 6-8, emphasis added):

Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord. They served ... the gods of the Ammonites and the gods of the Philistines. And because the Israelites forsook the Lord and no longer served him, he became angry with them. He sold them into the hands of the Philistines and the Ammonites, who that year shattered and crushed them.

Along similar lines, today I read the English translation of Pope Francis' first homily as Pope.  This passage stuck out:

When one does not walk, one stalls. .... When one does not profess Jesus Christ - I recall the phrase of Leon Bloy – “Whoever does not pray to God, prays to the devil.” When one does not profess Jesus Christ, one professes the worldliness of the devil.

These two passages, both coming from completely different directions, hit me in the same spot in my heart.  This is truly the work of the Holy Spirit.  In simple terms, they convicted me that there is no room for compromise in my service to God. If there are things in my life that do not bring me closer to Jesus, they draw me away from him.  And those things, those gods I worship - for everything we do is an act of worship of something - are never neutral.  For the very things that seem so innocent will certainly lead me to my destruction, just as the gods of the Philistines opened the door for the Philistines to shatter and destroy the Israelites.

There is a very clear line between good and evil, between Heaven and Hell, between Christianity and The World.  From the Christian side, that line is very visible.  But from the world's side, the line must appear invisible.

The world keeps urging the Church, "Worship our gods.  Be more progressive.  Allow homosexuality.  Allow contraception.  Allow divorce."  By making a stand against these things, the Church is being a bright light in a dark place, and it hurts the eyes of the people who prefer the darkness.  "Turn it off!" they shout.  "Walk in darkness with us."  Therein lies the trap.

One who hides his light under a bushel when it is the only light in the room is a damned fool.  Literally.  Keep shining the light, Holy Mother Church.  And invite those on the other side of that line - those perched blindly on the edge of a crumbling cliff - to come and join us in the light, where there is vision, safety, and warmth.  There is no condemnation in this invitation - there is only his mercy.

If you are reading this and are on the other side of this line, I implore you: come to the light!