Saturday, April 21, 2012

Third Sunday of Easter: "The way we may be sure that we know him is to keep his commandments"

Christ is risen, Alleluia!

In this Easter Season our first and constant desire is to proclaim the risen life of Jesus Christ in which all of us share through the grace of our baptism. This gift is meant to grow, welling up to Eternal Life. Thus our words, actions and interior life of every day are meant to be examined for their conformity to this new and risen life of God in us.

When the Church speaks out about issues that are being taken up in politics of the current day she is accused of being "political". Is it not the truth rather that those who attack the Church for speaking out when the laws of men violate the laws of God in regard to human life, marriage and the good of children are in fact in the wrong? The laws of God are the highest good and eternal truths and those who claim to follow Jesus Christ cannot at the same time support human laws which disobey and contradict God's holy will.

"Those who say, 'I know him,' but do not keep his commandments are liars, and the truth is not in them." (1 Jn 2:1-5a)

"Fruit of the Spirit and fullness of the Law, charity keeps the commandments of God and his Christ: 'Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love.' " (CCC 1824)

Many today advocate divorcing love for Jesus from any association with Church, commandments, moral rights and wrongs or involvement by Christians in the political sphere. Christ makes clear that following Him places certain demands upon those who would say that they love Him which include acting on those commands in the voting booth as well as in other facets of life.

"To this first reply Jesus adds a second: "If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me." This reply does not do away with the first: following Jesus Christ involves keeping the Commandments. The Law has not been abolished, but rather man is invited to rediscover it in the person of his Master who is its perfect fulfillment. In the three synoptic Gospels, Jesus' call to the rich young man to follow him, in the obedience of a disciple and in the observance of the Commandments, is joined to the call to poverty and chastity. The evangelical counsels are inseparable from the Commandments." (CCC 2053)

People ask why Pope Benedict does not condemn more often the laws of men which contradict and oppose the laws of God for example during his recent visit to Mexico, where laws about marriage and human life were recently passed which violate the sacredness of these gifts and the will of God that they be treated with reverence as sacred things.

Question: A month ago you were in Valencia. Anyone who was listening carefully noticed how you never mentioned the words "homosexual marriage," you never spoke about abortion, or about contraception. Clearly your idea is to go around the world preaching the faith rather than as an "apostle of morality." What are your comments?

Benedict XVI: Obviously, yes. Actually I had only two opportunities to speak for 20 minutes, and when you have so little time you can't say everything you want to say about "no." Firstly you have to know what we really want, right? Christianity, Catholicism, isn't a collection of prohibitions: it's a positive option. It's very important that we look at it again because this idea has almost completely disappeared today. We've heard so much about what is not allowed that now it's time to say: we have a positive idea to offer ... I believe we need to see and reflect on the fact that it's not a Catholic invention that man and woman are made for each other, so that humanity can go on living: all cultures know this. As far as abortion is concerned, it's part of the fifth, not the sixth, commandment: "Thou shalt not kill!" We have to presume this is obvious and always stress that the human person begins in the mother's womb and remains a human person until his or her last breath. ... But all this is clearer if you say it first in a positive way.

Perhaps all of us could explore more fully this "affirmative orthodoxy" of Benedict XVI. If we understand the goodness and holiness of God's plans for marriage, family and human life then we naturally oppose and try to prevent the plans and laws of men that would attack these good things of God give for us and for our benefit as an expression of His love. Thus, law and love in God are one thing for us as they have always been and will be for Him.

"But whoever keeps his word, the love of God is truly perfected in him." (1 Jn 2:1-5a)

Praised be Jesus Christ, now and forever. He is truly risen, Alleluia!


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