Friday, February 02, 2007

Evangelizing in love means speaking the truth

The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines sin thusly:

"Sin is an offense against reason, truth, and right conscience; it i failure in genuine love for God and neighbor caused by a perverse attachment to certain goods. It wounds the nature of man and injures human solidarity. It has been defined as 'an utterance, a deed, or a desire contrary to the eternal law.'" (CCC, 1849).

How are Christians to respond to sin and sinful structures? Again, the Catechism teaches:

"The duty of Christians to take part in the life of the Church impels them to act as witnesses of the Gospel and of the obligations that flow from it. This witness is a transmission of the faith in words and deeds. Witness is an act of justice that establishes the truth or makes it known. All Christians by the example of their lives and the witness of their word, wherever they live, have an obligation to manifest the new man which they have put on in Baptism and to reveal the power of the Holy Spirit by whom they were strengthened at Confirmation." (CCC, 2472).

This duty, this obligation, of the laity to "act as witnesses of the Gospel and of the obligations that flow from it," is too often misunderstood by even those within the Church who emphasize evangelizing in love but who disassociate love from truth. This is unfortunate since an authentic evangelization is always rooted in truth. There is no genuine love in evangelization without the truth. In the words of Archbishop Oscar Romero, the martyred Archbishop of San Salvador:

"A preaching that does not point out sin is not the preaching of the gospel. A preaching that makes sinners feel good so that they become entrenched in their sinful state, betrays the gospel's call. A preaching that does not discomfit sinners but lulls them in their sin leaves Zebulun and Naphtali in the shadow of death.

A preaching that awakens, a preaching that enlightens -- as when a light turned on awakens and of course annoys a sleeper -- that is the preaching of Christ, calling, "wake up! Be converted!" this is the church's authentic preaching. Naturally, such preaching must meet conflict, must spoil what is miscalled prestige, must disturb, must be persecuted. It cannot get along with the powers of darkness and sin."

How serious is this obligation to speak the truth in love as witnesses of the Gospel? Again, Archbishop Romero:

"Not just purgatory but hell awaits those who could have done good & did not do it. It is the reverse of the Beati-tude that the Bible has for those who are saved, for the saints,"who could have done wrong & did not." Of those who are condemned it will be said: they could have done good & did not."

I remember some years back, at a spiritual conference which featured Catholic mystic Eileen George of Meet the Father Ministry (an apostolate which is approved by the Diocese of Worcester, Massachusetts), how Mrs. George publically rebuked (in a strong but loving way) two homosexual men who were in attendance. She told them (without ever having met these men before) that the Lord Jesus had revealed to her that they were living in a homosexual relationship and that He was very sad. She told these two men that they needed to repent and leave that sin behind.

Just recently, a Catholic deacon challenged a pro-abortion politician on his support of abortion, the killing of innocent children in the womb. And both his pastor and his Bishop publically apologized for his homily which embarassed this politician. But which is worse, a moments embarassment or an eternity in hell for supporting the murder of unborn children?

Eileen George, a mystic well-known and loved throughout the world, a woman with tremendous spiritual gifts, knows the answer to this question. Which is why she publically reproved those two men who had been engaging in homosexual acts. She spoke the truth in love.

Are we prepared to do the same? Or will we fear the opinion of men more than the judgment of God?

The choice is ours: serve the Lord Jesus by speaking the truth in love (in season and out of season as St. Paul says - whether the truth is popular or not) or capitulate to political correctness while succumbing to fear of being disliked.

Paul Anthony Melanson

No comments:

Site Meter