Monday, August 29, 2016

The Passion of St. John the Baptist--But, Mercy!

Today the Church commemorates the passion, that is, the suffering and martyrdom, of St. John the Baptist, he who prepared the way of the Lord, baptizing Him in the Jordan and preaching of his coming.

And why was he martyred?  For telling the truth to someone who didn't want to hear it.  He told King Herod that he was an adulterer for "marrying" his brother's wife while his brother was still alive. This somewhat displeased the woman in question, Herodias, who took advantage of her "husband's" rampant lust for her daughter and forced him to have John executed.  See Mark 6: 17-29; Matthew 14: 1-12. 

St. Ambrose, in his Treatise Concerning Virgins, (the third Reading for today's Matins prayers in the traditional Office) states in part:

 “We must not hurry past the record of blessed Baptist John. We must ask what he was; by whom he was slain; and why and how. He was a righteous man, murdered for his righteousness by adulterers. He was a judge, who suffered condemnation to death by the guilty ones because he had justly judged their guilt. He was the prophet whose death was a fee paid to a dancing-girl for a lascivious dance."

Imprisoned and later killed for speaking the truth to those who knew their own guilt but sought to pretend righteousness, John the Baptist is a type for the Church today, which is reviled and scorned and legally attacked for trying to uphold God's moral law.  Oh, wait... 

 At least, it used to be.  These days, we're not really hearing much from the Church about heroes like John the Baptist or St. Thomas More, who similarly lost his head for refusing to condone his king's adulterous desires.  Instead, we're told by various bishops and cardinals that we who stand up for Christ's definition of adultery are "Pharisees" and "fundamentalists" who "throw stones at people's lives."  You can verify all those statements, and more like them, quite easily with a word search or two.  Try names like Paglia, Schornborn, Kasper, Marx...and Francis. Or Bergoglio, as he still apparently prefers to be known, having re-upped his Argentinian passport in that name. 

Yeah, him.  I'm sorry, but I can't let this go. The guy who is supposed to be in charge of defending the Deposit of Faith seems hell-bent (no pun intended) on forcing priests worldwide to give Holy Communion to "the divorced and remarried"--in other words, to persons living in open and notorious adultery, which he and his fellow travelers prefer to call "irregular unions." Don't believe that?  I guess you haven't read the Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia, which attempts to justify such a practice, among other problems.  Never mind those guys who were martyred for insisting that when Jesus defined divorce and "remarriage" as adultery, he meant it.  Because, you know, mercy.  Without repentance and conversion of heart, without a firm purpose of amendment, without any commitment whatsoever to cease engaging in mortal sin as Jesus Himself and His Church have defined it since the beginning.  You see, these definitions are too harsh, too...unmerciful.  As if these men, these fallen humans, can better define mercy than God can.  Righty-o, gentlemen, you go!  That guy Jesus, well, maybe he wasn't really God after all, you know, since he didn't really multiply the loaves and fishes, 'cuz that was just, you know, a miracle of "sharing" according to Bergoglio.  So why should we get hung up on what he said about adultery?

I would really like to see these prelates stand before John the Baptist and Thomas More and tell them how their martyrdom still means anything once unrepentant adulterers are admitted to Holy Communion.  What I don't want to see or imagine, because I really don't want any soul forever to be lost, is those same bishops and cardinals standing before the Lord trying to explain themselves, unless they reverse this perilous course before then.  I pray daily for their conversion of heart.  You should, too. 

Laudator Jesus Christus!

1 comment:

  1. The example of John the Baptist is apt in more ways than one. Fr Romano Guardini has an interesting chapter devoted to John the Baptist and Herod. Herod comes off in the Bible as a pathetic little man, wanting to spare John the Baptist, yet cowed into obedience to his wife. "Henpecked" we might say, but that phrase wouldn't come close to the derision that Guardini had for the man who couldn't govern either his passions nor his household.

    And indeed, it's a question as to whether what Herod and Herodius were doing was illicit at all according to the standards of the day. There's no record that I know of of Herodius' inlaws coming to avenge Herod's taking of another man's wife.

    So, like today, John the Baptist was preaching morality to people that didn't accept that morality. What he did was fundamentally different from Thomas More. Henry accepted the definitions of marriage and adultery, he just wanted them deferred in his case so that he might sire an heir and be rid of a tiresome queen. But were Herod and Herodius bound by Jewish ideas of morality?

    Well, wanting someone killed could be a sign of a troubled conscience. In talking to our contemporaries, the secular notions of right-and-wrong (or more accurately 'right-and-whatever') may approve of certain behavior but the natural law can still make itself known if the conscience is pricked. Covering over that irksome conscience requires anger and discrediting the messenger.

    Hopefully it won't come to someone literally losing his head, but imprisonment is a possibility. Losing tax-exempt status and earning the disapproval of polite society could be likely as well.

    But as you way, there's little chance of that happening for the next few years at least.