Posted by: Thomas Richard | December 8, 2009

Loving and Hating

A quiet tragedy is growing among us: men and women, Christians – Catholics – insensitive to the presence of God so near, deaf to the thunder in His whispered Words, blind to the traces of divine light in signs He has placed for our journey. We have become desensitized, numbed, unresponsive to either the holiness, or the blasphemies around us.

In the Book of Revelations, we read:

Rev 3:15 “‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were cold or hot!
Rev 3:16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of my mouth.
Rev 3:17 For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing; not knowing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.

What kind of “lukewarmness” produces such spiritual blindness? How can a “believer” have such lack of discernment, to confuse prosperity with abject poverty, awareness with spiritual blindness, rich garments with humiliating nakedness?

Can a believer be so cold-blooded, so internally adapted to the temperature of his surroundings, that he has no rightful passion or authentic heat of his own? C.S. Lewis spoke of “men without chests,” in his work The Abolition of Man. What disease robs men of chests, of heart, and leaves only bloodless ideas? It is ignorance of, or rejection of, those objective values that inflame heat in the lives and actions of men. Modern men, including those who call themselves Christian, have died to the horrors of sin as they have to the glory of holiness. They have no chests; they have only thoughts about thoughts, lukewarm and pointless.

How can persons remain so detached from the horrors of sin, or the glory of holiness, as to speak of one or the other as easily and detached as they might speak of yesterday’s weather? How can men not care that our culture is going mad? How can Christians not care that the Church staggers and slurs like a drunken man while the culture commits suicide?

We do not hate evil enough. We do not treasure enough the holy all around us. We are men with thoughts about sin, and thoughts about God – but where is the fire? Where is the life? How do we not fall prostrate, sobbing for our sins and the sins of the Church, when we enter the Presence of God?

Revelation gives the response of the Lord to this church:

Rev 3:18 Therefore I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, that you may be rich, and white garments to clothe you and to keep the shame of your nakedness from being seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, that you may see.

Gold, holy and spiritual gold! For those who will seek, there is true and eternal value embedded in this creation, like gold deep in the mountains and running dust in streams. There is fire in the heart of Jesus, able to make pure every ounce that we can find, if we will stay close to Him.

And there is another fire, a less welcomed one, a fire of justice that will destroy. As we look around us, one wonders if it can be very far away. Our blasphemies multiply, and gather, and angels must weep. We are called to repent, to turn again, to live the mission Christ has entrusted to us. We are called to be men, full-bodied and full-blooded, and live our mission – a mission from God – with passion while time remains.

Thomas


Responses

  1. Dear Thomas,

    Thank you, once more for these sobering thoughts to ponder during this Advent season of penance and of hope. The purple vestments our priests wear and the purple ribbons and candles on our Advent wreathes can easily be overlooked as reminders to us sinners to repent and believe in Jesus, as we prepare for His Coming.

    It was significant to me that you posted this message on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. I remembered God’s word to Satan after the Original Sin of our first parents:

    “I will put enmity (hatred) between you and the woman and between her seed and your seed…”
    (Genesis 3:15)

    There is perfect love for God and us, and perfect hatred for evil in the Immaculate Heart of Mary. There needs to be real love and hatred in our hearts as well. Each of us must examine our hearts, ever more sincerely, and strive even more earnestly to love God and others to become more like Mary, loving and hating as perfectly as she did.

    Once more, I’ve found a similarity between your words and those of Pope Benedict. As I read the Pope’s words to the city of Rome, on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, there was a semblance to your reference to “men without chests” in the Pope’s words on the crowds of faces without depth and without soul. He said:

    We often lament the pollution of the air, which in certain places of the city is unbreathable. It is true: We need everyone’s commitment to make the city cleaner.

    And yet, there is another pollution, less perceptible to the senses, but just as dangerous. It is the pollution of the spirit; it is that which renders our faces less smiling, more gloomy, which leads us not to greet one another, to not look at one another in the face. The city is made up of faces, but unfortunately the collective dynamics can make the perception of their depth disappear. We see everything on the surface. Persons become bodies, and these bodies lose the soul, become things, objects without a face, to be exchanged and consumed.

    Mary Immaculate helps us to rediscover and defend the depth of persons, because in her there is perfect transparency of the soul in the body. She is purity personified, in the sense that the spirit, soul and body are in her, fully consistent between themselves and with the will of God. The Madonna teaches us to open ourselves to God’s action, to look at others as he looks at them — from the heart. And to look at them with mercy, with love, with infinite tenderness, especially those who are most alone, most looked down upon, most exploited. “Where sin increased, grace abounded all the more.”

    Come Lord Jesus! As you became Flesh in Mary, come and live in us: Loving our Father and Hating Evil perfectly!

    • The secular world is calling out to us loud and clear. But, is the Church? When is the last time you heard a “fire, Hell, and brimstone” homily in the Catholic Church or sermon in any other Christian Church? Unfortunately, it is easy to get caught up in the secular world of me, me, me. We forget about what has been commanded of us by God, Himself and what the consequences can be if we do not obey.

      Everyone has to take responsibility for his/her own actions. But that goes for the Church, too. Priests, Ministers, Deacons, Elders . . . feed your people! Let us leave our respective churches on Sunday morning “fired up” with the love of God and determination to obey His Commandments!

  2. Dear Thomas,

    Certainly you got my attention with your strong words! Two things that especially touched my heart are: 1. a man without the chest, 2. thoughts about thoughts.

    Just yesterday I talked to someone who told me, that God was only what people thought He was. It looks like He is reduced to a simple thought within the soul of some. No wonder that in such soul, He has no power to move, to change, to sanctify. If He is reduced to a thought, the enemy comes and snatches away all His inspirations. God’s voice has no real power in doubting hearts; it is swiftly carried away by the enemy: worries of this passing world, material comfort, selfishness, greed, etc….

    God’ love needs a response, and somehow we need to say a loud YES to Him, instead of sitting and allowing the enemy to say his distractive yes on our behalf. We need to get hold of our true destiny, our true calling. That destiny is heaven with our God reigning there with much love. What a joy to those who love with passion, and what a strange image to those who do not hear the voice of their own souls!

    Of course, we do not desire justice and God does not want to exercise His justice over His broken people. But it is up to us, which path we choose. Christmas is the time for a new beginning and I pray that the world chooses mercy and love. I pray that the world chooses Jesus, who is the FIRE and the answer to all that humanity really needs. Jesus will deal with our lukewarm lives if we allow Him to come.

    Come Lord Jesus, Come and ignite a new fire within our broken hearts, refine what is stained by sin, and present us to our Father, so we may sing His glories forever.


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