Mt 5:17-37 Plan A and Plan B

Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
(Click here for readings)

Jesus said to his disciples:  “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets.  I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.  Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter will pass from the law, until all things have taken place.  Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do so will be called least in the kingdom of heaven.”

Kristina Carlota, a senior at the University of the Philippines, has written an article for the Huffington Post entitled:  “Pope Francis Restored My Faith In The Catholic Church.”

Why?  Because in her estimation, Pope Francis does not judge anyone or anything.  She writes:  “We are fortunate to now have a leader in the open-minded Pope Francis, who has said, “Who am I to judge?” And yes, who are we to judge?”

Of course she goes on to judge the Catholic Church in her teachings and in her followers. 

Although Kristina went to Catholic School for most of her young life, she apparently failed to comprehend the most rudimentary teachings of the Catholic faith, especially sin, sinners, forgiveness of sins and the Lord’s Commandments. 

She thinks it is wrong to judge others harshly.  It is.  But is it wrong to judge their actions?  Would she turn a blind eye at a young man snatching an elderly woman’s purse?  Who am I to judge?  Or a mother beating her son?  Who am I to judge?  Or a CEO’s billion dollar paycheck?  Who am I to judge?  Or a woman who aborts her child because it is a girl?  Who am I to judge?  Or a government that legalizes euthanasia for the mentally ill?  Who am I to judge?

These may be soft cases.  But would she be unwilling to judge any of them?

There is nothing wrong with judging.  Judges do it all the time. Jurors do it all the time.  Teachers do it all the time (especially while grading exams).  And aren’t we always being asked to judge others?  Aren’t people judging Chris Christie, and whether or not he is telling the truth or lying?  Aren’t Olympians being judged, right now, as we speak?  Aren’t the Russian people being judged for their views on gay marriage? 
So if I have understood correctly, there is nothing wrong with judging…unless your a Catholic.  Is that right? 

Oh, how we love to judge others!

Let’s make something clear.  It isn’t wrong to judge.  We do it all the time.  What is wrong is to take our judgment and to not reach out to others; that is, to not lift a finger to help – never hurt – others.  That is what is wrong with our world, and I believe this is what Kristina wants to tell the world.     

When we judge someone’s actions, especially their sinful actions, our next step should not be to condemn them but to reach out to them, which is exactly what Christ did.  “How can I help you?” should be the first thing out of our mouths.

This is the beauty of the Catholic Church.  It is a Church of sinners, by sinners and for sinners.  It is holy only because Christ is holy.

Kristina goes on to say:  In the Philippines, those who engage in premarital sex or who are in same-sex relationships are labeled “immoral.” Unmarried women who are no longer virgins are labeled “sluts.” If you choose not to follow what the church dictates, then you become a villain who can never live happily ever after.

Really?  I would like to know in what Church document Kristina has found the word “slut?”  But I do know (and have been told) where she can find it, and find it on a regular, almost daily, basis:  in secular workplace conversations, among teens, in the bars, in rap music, in secular high schools and on college campuses, in chat rooms, strip joints, and most of all, in a trillion dollar industry commonly known as the pornographic industry.  These are the places where she will find it and find it BIG.  It won’t be in churches, chapels or even in the confessionals.  BELIEVE ME!

In my twenty years as a religious, I have only once used this vulgar word.  It was in a homily I recently gave, and I used it to describe men who use women.  I received a standing ovation from my all-female congregation.  Why did I use it?  Because a man will often be called a “stud” for the same thing a woman is called…well, you know what.  Was I wrong? “Who am I to judge?” 

When the Holy Father, Pope Francis, spoke these words, he was referring to a gay priest seeking forgiveness.  When he said, “Who am I to judge?”  He was basically saying, “Who am I to withhold God’s mercy and forgiveness!” 

“Blessed are they who follow the law of the Lord!” (Ps. 119:1b).  Nothing to fear!  A huge part of Christ’s law is forgiveness and compassion.  Love conquers all things, including sin and death.

In her article, Kristina mentions she began to doubt her Catholic faith when she entered a secular university.  What I believe may have happened is that her faith got twisted while she was there.   “Blessed are you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth; you have revealed to little ones the mysteries of the kingdom.”  

The Commandments are God’s “Plan A” of love.  Forgiveness is His “Plan B.”  Every parent would love to see their children avoid the same mistakes they made growing up.  The Lord’s Commandments are a great prescription for healthy living.   But when we fail to take our medicine, then like God the Father, every parent must resort to “Plan B” and reach out, hug their children, and let them know all can be forgiven. (0)

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Fr. Alfonse (1044 Posts)

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