So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter (2 Thess. 2:15). Guard what has been entrusted to you. Avoid the godless chatter and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge, for by professing it some have missed the mark as regards faith (1 Tim. 6:21-22).

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Holy Father condemns "doctors of the law".

The Catholic Herald reports the Holy Father's comments on the occasion of the Feast of Saint Teresa of Avila.
Celebrating the feast of St Teresa of Avila, Pope Francis said that when Jesus was alive, when the early Christian community was growing, and today as well, there are “doctors of the law” who think that they (and who might they be?) can know who is and is not saved by the apparent way they obey certain commandments. (Careful! The debate could rapidly descend into an unnecessary revisit of heresies of old. E.g.,... 'So then, it doesn't matter if one accepts or rejects God's offer? If we do accept God's offer, can we then do whatever we like (sin) and get away with it? Once saved always saved?' The tendency to reduce the Gospel to a neat (shallow) criticism of externals risks the reduction of the Gospel to the Calvinist heresy. We run the risk of losing the Catholic balance.)
One must obey the commandments and do what Jesus said to do, Pope Francis insisted, but this is “my response” to God’s offer of salvation, not a condition for it. (God does not impose His offer. He desires our free response. We must freely accept His offer of salvation. God desires our full cooperation, not mere acquiescence that reduces His magnanimous gift to a cheap purchase of man's sins.)
Looking at the day’s Gospel reading, Luke 11:47-52, Pope Francis said Jesus used strong and “very harsh” language when speaking of the “doctors of the law”. Jesus tells them: “‘You have taken away the key of knowledge. You yourselves did not enter and you stopped those trying to enter,’ meaning the key of the gratuitousness of salvation.” (In our age, heretics and dissenters have created an equally damnable stumbling block—i.e., that of watering down the Gospel so people can avoid the serious implications and consequences of their sinful lifestyles. Jesus said: "If you love me, you will keep my commandments."—St. John 14:15)
The doctors of the law “thought the only way one could save oneself was by obeying all the commandments and that whoever could not do that was condemned,” the Pope said. Their teaching “limited the horizons of God and made God’s love small, small”, in effect, reducing it to a human size. (Tolerance of sin limits the horizon of God's justice. Love and mercy cannot contradict truth. Otherwise, it is neither mercy nor love. Love without justice is cheap.)
The commandments must be observed, the Pope said, but it is important to remember that they are summarised as “love God and love your neighbour.” (One cannot ignore the context nor the timing of this entire statement. Unfortunately, love of neighbour might mean to the Kasperites the disposal of the obligation to love God first. Love of neighbour, without the primacy of the love of God, reduces the Gospel to a faux-mercy that blesses sinful behaviours. This is the concern of many bishops.)
Jesus himself taught that all the commandments are found within the commandment of love because “the source is love, the horizon is love. If you have closed the door and thrown away the key of love, you will never live up to the gratuitousness of the salvation you have received.” (Love DOES NOT tolerate sin. Love—the sacrificial death of Jesus on the Cross—destroys sin. Love is not a compromise. Authentic love calls people out of their sins. Cardinal Napier recently reminded Fr. Rosica of that very teaching and example of Christ in a Twitter exchange. Those who refuse to choose the mercy and love of God, i.e., God's loving justice, and who instead choose to persist in sin, have their reward.)
Counter Counter Reformation Jesuit?

The Holy Father appears to be tangling himself up in an unnecessary knot of ideas that reflect the push to widen the narrow gate of salvation in Christ. Instead, might the Holy Father have said... ?
God does not force His offer of salvation upon us.
God invites our cooperation to newness of life.
If we truly love God, we will abandon sin and keep His commandments. So saith Christ.
Truth & Consequences

Grace from God is available to help us live the commandments. As Archbishop Chaput reminded us recently:
Paragraphs 7-10 of the Instrumentum did a good job of describing the condition of today’s families. But overall, the text engenders a subtle hopelessness. This leads to a spirit of compromise with certain sinful patterns of life and the reduction of Christian truths about marriage and sexuality to a set of beautiful ideals — which then leads to surrendering the redemptive mission of the Church.
The work of this synod needs to show much more confidence in the Word of God, the transformative power of grace, and the ability of people to actually live what the Church believes. And it should honor the heroism of abandoned spouses who remain faithful to their vows and the teaching of the Church. …
We need to call people to perseverance in grace and to trust in the greatness God intended for them — not confirm them in their errors. Marriage embodies Christian hope – hope made flesh and sealed permanently in the love of a man and a woman.
This synod needs to preach that truth more clearly with the radical passion of the Cross and Resurrection. [source]
Truth be told, and with all due respect, Archbishop Chaput's comments also provide a better balance to the mercy/justice debate than the Holy Father's attempt.
We’ve heard many times that the Church should be inclusive. And if by “inclusive” we mean a Church that is patient and humble, merciful and welcoming — then all of us here will agree. But it’s very hard to include those who do not wish to be included, or insist on being included on their own terms. To put it another way: I can invite someone into my home, and I can make my home as warm and hospitable as possible. But the person outside my door must still choose to enter. If I rebuild my house to the blueprint of the visitor or stranger, my family will bear the cost, and my home will no longer be their home. The lesson is simple. We need to be a welcoming Church that offers refuge to anyone honestly seeking God. But we need to remain a Church committed to the Word of God, faithful to the wisdom of the Christian tradition, and preaching the truth of Jesus Christ. [source]

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