“I know thy works, that thou art neither cold, nor hot. I would thou wert cold, or hot. But because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold, nor hot, I will begin to vomit thee out of my mouth.” Jesus Revelation 3:15-16
Imagine going to medical school, and finding out the professor omitted or skipped parts of the surgery curriculum during his lessons – would this increase or decrease the chances of the student making mistakes? Or going to court, and having your statements reduced by a few lines – could this alter the verdict? Or trying to build furniture and later finding out a page is missing from the instructions… could be the difference between having a 3-legged stool or a table at the end!
Over the past few months at Mass, I’ve noticed several times, that the missal contains redactions of the Gospel. The “shorter version” is not always the one selected, but it has a few times. Reading the shorter version might “save” two minutes of time, so this can’t be the primary reason for the redactions. What does seem to happen is at least one of three things: specific words of Christ are not read/ priest avoids some of His words on the homily/ an inclusive, non-judgemental interpretation is provided.
For example, in the recent parable of the wheat and the weeds Mt 13:24-43, the short form redacts the last thirteen verses!!! These thirteen verses included Jesus’ interpretation of what He meant; “He who sows good seed is the Son of Man, the field is the world, the good seed the children of the kingdom. The weeds are the children of the evil one, and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters the angels. Just as weeds are collected and burned up with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send His angels, and they will collect out of His kingdom, all who cause others to sin and all evildoers. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears ought to hear.” Sounds like a whole lot of judging is going on, and the wheat and the weeds are mutually exclusive, even if allowed to grow together.
St Paul in his letter to the Thessalonians (1:1-5) proclaimed, “our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake”. Interestingly, the word “confidence” means “with-faith” (con-fidence), fides being the Latin root for the word faith. Perhaps faith, or lack thereof, might also be the root behind the timidity, fear of offense, sanitized speech which distorts Gospel readings and homilies all over the world.
Venerable Fulton Sheen reminded us in his book “Religion without God”, that “Our intellects do not make truth, they attain it; they discover it.” He then goes on to provide an example quite fitting for our times: “A material civilization does not confuse dollars with cents, pounds with shillings; on these matters it is intolerant. Two dollars plus two dollars make four dollars and not three, and no amount of pleading for monetary tolerance could change the truth. But, on the all-important matter of the ultimate ground of the universe, the final end of man, the meaning of God and religion, there is a tolerance stretched to the point of the absurd.” This book was published in 1928. A few years earlier in 1907, Pope St Pius X wrote “On Modernity”. In it, he posed the question, “But when they justify even contradictions, what is it that they will refuse to justify?” Hundred years later, after two world wars, discovery of atomic power, the internet, electric cars and so on, we now have passionate debates on… what is a woman.
Jesus’ words are meant to stir us and to inspire action to achieve the ultimate spiritual prize, much like a good athletics coach brings players through a journey of doubts (trailing in the fourth quarter, missed chances, etc) and suffering (early workouts, injury recoveries, etc) to win the championship. In Jesus’ first homily, they wanted to throw Him over a cliff. Later, they accused Him of being the devil and wanted to stone Him (Jn 8:57-59). Eventually, they got Him crucified…. and yet that still didn’t stop Him! So we won’t stop either. Here are ten more hard-hitting teachings from Christ the King Himself:
- “Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you.”
- “How could you not perceive that I was not talking about bread?”
- “Do not think that I have come to bring peace on earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s foes will be those of his own household.”
- “But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”
- “Not every one who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven”
- “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross, and follow me.”
- “You faithless and perverse generation, how much longer must I be with you?…Bring him here to me.”
- “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”
- If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were fastened around your neck and you were drowned in the depth of the sea.”
- “Go, and sin no more.”
St Joseph – pray for us.
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