Voce mea ad Dominum

Random thoughts from an amateur theologist.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Burning Grace

The wicked say:
Let us beset the just one, because he is obnoxious to us;
he sets himself against our doings,
reproaches us for transgressions of the law
and charges us with violations of our training.
- Wisdom 2:12

This passage from Wisdom speaks prophetically of Christ, the just one, who was condemned by the Jewish authorities because he was a threat, a thorn in their side. Christ held those priests, scribes, and pharisees to the task of practicing what they preached, the Law of Moses. Because Christ was the fulfillment of that Law in the flesh, he spoke with authority against those whose task was to uphold the Law yet made it a burden. For this he was beset and killed.

As this reading was being proclaimed at Mass this past weekend, it occurred to me that this is exactly how the world responds when the Church stands up for truth. The Church proclaims with authority the teachings of her Lord Jesus which are often at odds with the prevailing zeitgeist. Rather than the world listening and reflecting on the truth of the Gospel, most often it fights back with zeal calling the Church intolerant, stifling, and at times downright bigoted.

Christ never promised a primrose path, on the contrary he promised that the Church would be hated on his account. And just why is this the case? Because Christ expects us to live up to the high standards of the Gospel and this is very hard, actually impossible without God's grace, and God's grace burns and "sets itself against our doings." In other words, it convicts people of their wrongdoing and makes them aware of their imperfection before his majesty. It puts them out of their comfort zone, and when people are put out of their comfort zone, more often than not, they get defensive and set themselves in opposition to God's grace. But by cooperating with God's grace through repentance and conversion, that same burning love becomes a source of pure joy which leads to eternal life.

If only the world would open its heart to the love of God.

St. Vincent de Paul, pray for us.


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