“And should I not pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand persons who do not know their right hand from their left, to say nothing of all the animals?” Jonah 4:11
God ordered one man, one reluctant man to convert an entire city to repent or otherwise face His justice. To Jonah’s surprise, the city did repent and God poured forth His mercy. Much like the older brother in the story of the Prodigal Son, Jonah was furious with the Father for forgiving the trespasses of those who had trespassed against Him. He wanted to see God do to Nineveh, what He had done to Sodom. Little did Jonah know, that someone else would spend three days in the abyss, not merely to save a city, but to save him and the whole world!
Brothers, obedience to God’s will is the path to joy and happiness. St Augustine famously said, “We are restless until we rest in Thee”, but like Jonah, we too wrestle with God’s plan for us, often preferring our own, more comfortable path only to discover that before the glorious Resurrection, came the Cross. But how do we discern God’s will in a world where the question is no longer “Truth? What is truth?” but rather, “Woman? What is woman?”
Consider the following set of statements:
“Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” “For love of my people I will not remain silent” ” Cardinal Zen is going to trial these days, I think”
“Go and preach the Gospel to all nations” “As to the numbers who become Christians, you may understand them from this, that it often happens to me to be hardly able to use my hands from the fatigue of baptizing: often in a single day I have baptized whole villages. Sometimes I have lost my voice and strength altogether with repeating again and again the Credo and the other forms” St Francis Xavier “The Church is not a soccer team that goes around seeking fans”
“Be fruitful and multiply” “The third end of marriage is the birth and bringing up of children. And herein, O married people, are you greatly honored in that God, willing to multiply souls to bless and praise Him to all eternity, associates you with Himself in this His work, by the production of bodies into which, like dew from Heaven, He infuses the souls He creates as well as the bodies into which they enter” St Francis De Sales “Some think that — excuse the word — that in order to be good Catholics we have to be like rabbits. No.”
“I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life” ” How long will you be dull of heart? Why do you refuse to recognize the truth and believe in the Son of God?” St Francis of Assisi “The pluralism and the diversity of religions, colour, sex, race and language are willed by God in His wisdom”
I encourage you to reflect and discern on your own, which statement(s) reflect Catholic thought and which one(s), do not. Which ones will you obey? What would you do if instead of Pontius, you found a pontiff skeptical of truth?
Consider that priests take vows of obedience and yet only 24% have confidence in their own bishops! (US survey) In Canada, we have bishops closing churches and more churches, refusing the Eucharist to abort…. I mean the un-jabbed, and even calling for the spirits of the wild! Yet, as sombre as these may sound, the Church has been through this before:
- In the first centuries after Christ, a battled raged in the Church whereby one man decided that Jesus was not really Divine. His name was Arius….Bishop Arius. His followers persecuted St Athanasius, and settled in the East part of the Roman empire. About 200 years later, from the edge of this Eastern land, came another man denying the divinity of Christ – his name was Mohammed.
- Around the time of King Henry VIII, nearly every bishop in England left the Church and followed the king (the state). The Anglican Church was thus born. St Thomas More didn’t follow either the king or the bishops, despite knowing the dangers to his life.
- Pope Stephen held a trial for his then dead predecessor (Pope Formosus). The body of the deceased Pope was unburied, he was tried and found guilty of course, and all his acts were annulled (including ordinations, except for the one of… Stephen).
- About 50 years later, a young man by the name of Octavian, became Emperor AND Pope John XII by the age of 18!! He loved gambling and women, but took the care to sign the documents as emperor with Octavian, and papal documents as John XII.
- Then you had Pope Urban VI fighting with Pope Clement VII. Two popes at the same time, elected by the same people….
- in 809, you had the “Synod of Adultery”, where the assembly of bishops wanted to approve a second marriage after the repudiation of a legitimate wife.
- In March 681, Pope Honorius I was declared a heretic and excommunicated from the Church. The question today is would you obey and follow any of these bishops or popes?
On his classic book, “Introduction to the Devout Life”, St Francis de Sales makes the following remark regarding obedience: “Love alone leads to perfection, but the three chief means for acquiring it are obedience, chastity, and poverty. Obedience is a consecration of the heart, chastity of the body, and poverty of all worldly goods to the love and service of God. These are the three members of the spiritual cross, and all three must be raised upon the fourth, which is humility.” Obedience is a virtue and it is worth mentioning that the first sin, was an act of disobedience. Mary taught us to “let it be according to His will” and Jesus Himself obeyed the will of the Father, when agonizing at Gethsemane. True obedience therefore does not infringe on our freedom or demand blind loyalty, but rather asks that we sync our will to the Will of God.
Tradition and Scriptures exist to help us understand the Word of God across the ages, not the spirit of the age. To be ignorant of either the Bible and/or Tradition, leaves one exposed to error. Jesus warned us to look for the “fruits” and not just the words, to help discern the wolves among us (Mat 7:15-16).
These are strange times, but not new times. The same errors prop up with different words, different expressions, but ultimately, it always leads to a denial of Christ as the Son of God. Whether He is called an “enlightened” being, the second best prophet, a social-justice revolutionary, a wise man, etc His question to us is very simple: “Who do you say that I am?” Your answer to this question changes everything.
On this note, I will end with some words from the first man to answer that question correctly, our first Pope St Peter (Acts 2:38-42):
38 You must repent,’ Peter answered, ‘and every one of you must be baptised in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
39 The promise that was made is for you and your children, and for all those who are far away, for all those whom the Lord our God is calling to himself.’
40 He spoke to them for a long time using many other arguments, and he urged them, ‘Save yourselves from this perverse generation.’
41 They accepted what he said and were baptised. That very day about three thousand were added to their number.
42 These remained faithful to the teaching of the apostles, to the brotherhood, to the breaking of bread and to the prayers.
Let us do the same.
St Joseph: Pray for us
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