Monday, May 27, 2013

Reaction to Pope Francis on Redemption, Salvation

Seeing all these posts about Pope Francis' comments on redemption, and then the follow-up posts/reporting from various sources (atheist, Christian, Catholic, etc.), some thoughts came to mind:

A) I enjoy quotes like, "For a brief moment there it was possible to imagine a brave new world of compassion, generosity and acceptance, not qualities we have come to associate with the Holy See" (IrishCentral) wherein when the Church says things I like, they are good. When they say things I don't like, 'they're so misguided/stupid/bigoted/etc.'

This article's view on infallibility is also telling of what they understand of Catholicism. How far this daughter of the Church has fallen.

B) It seems like all Christians have been made afraid to consider hell, or in other cases we ourselves don't even want to consider it.

C) People consider themselves 'good,' and then I wonder by what standard they judge themselves. Not killing, not murdering, generally not being an asshole? I recall when I was a boy and did something I was told. I asked for a reward afterward and the Sister told me, "You don't get a reward for doing what you're supposed to do."

'But I thought,' some may say, 'being a good person is what really matters?'

I don't disagree, but then again there's a difference between a meal that satisfies hunger and is soon forgotten and a meal that is "good," don't you think? There are many who do good when it suits them, no matter who, and so can we say that satisfying 'good' is a merit to that person?

D) Many reflect on the truths of redemption and salvation with little mind for the whole picture surrounding them. On the one hand, "A tree is known by its fruit" would suggest that one is judged according to his deeds. In fact, "God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil" (Ecc 12:13). Furthermore, "Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense, to repay every one for what he has done" (Rev 22:12).

This would seem to me that all men, regardless of creed (even those with only a human creed) are judged according to their deeds. The man of faith who sins is subject to a hotter fire than the non-believer. Those who believe ought to be wary since it says, "Do not say "His mercy is great, he will forgive the multitude of my sins," for both mercy and wrath are with him, and his anger rests on sinners" (Sir 5:6). All men, regardless of what they believe, are sinners in need of prayer--myself included: "remember, we all deserve punishment" (8:5).

Those who live according to the natural law live according to God, no matter who believes. Grace is with nature and grace "builds upon nature." All have grace by virtue of being, all do not respond to grace and thus grow in it.

On the other hand, what then is the purpose of faith, the role of faith? Unbelief is for those who believe and do not believe. What do I mean?

Those who believe and yet do not believe for it says of them "an evil, unbelieving heart, [leads] you away from the living God" (Heb 3:12) and that "For we share in Christ, if only we hold our first confidence firm to the end, while it is said "Today when you heard his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion" ... to whom did he swear that they should never enter his rest, but those who were disobedient?" (3:14-15, 18).

For those who do not believe it is not only pride on their part. In many cases it is wickedness on our part. Have we been quick to anger? Quick to ridicule? Quick to hate? Then you and I have made the narrow gate narrower and we have not been dutiful watchmen.

Even those who do not believe must humble themselves before God eventually. If they do not practice humility and obedience in this life, they should consider the hope they have for the next. Indeed, "the affliction of the proud has no healing" (Sir 3:28). The same can be said of those who believe.

Those who are good according to their estimation of what is good, or are good at their convenience are sometimes good out of pride, which means their works are good, not them. Doing good requires sacrifice, loss of self, and both humility and obedience to do that good in the face of opposition.

All the same, we may do something that has all these elements, how do we know it's good?

E) Pray for all mankind, for all have been purchased by the Blood of Christ. No one lives according to the sacrifice made for us if those who share most fully don't do it.