I am starting with a parable and a question: on whom do we rely? Do we rely on the completed work of Christ or do we consider our status in society? Where is our comfort?
Know this: the cardinal in this story can have his status ripped away in a second. As can we all. The current politically correct zampolits affect us all: the most salty memes today are not going up here. They would distract from the message. The elite find it offensive enough.
An old woman is approaching death. She lives in, and never left, a small village in the Andes. No one outside of her village knows of her existence. Her life was made of hard work, constant poverty, and worries for her loved ones. She is not perfect, but she has the fear of the Lord. She bears her suffering with Christian patience, uniting it with Christ’s suffering as much as her intellect allows, and waiting for the day her long suffering will end. The very idea of the Holy Sacrament being the object of sacrilege would crush her. She looks at the mostrance in the village procession, or during holy hour, and tears of hope and consolation run down her old, wrinkly cheeks. She prays every day for the salvation of her loved ones, both living and dead.
An old Cardinal is approaching death. He lives in a splendid palace. His name has worldwide recognition. His life consists of very light work, very refined meals, and the constant massaging of his ego. He has lost his faith decades ago. He does what all his colleagues do: he enjoys a life of luxury and prestige, avoids troubles, and rubs elbows with the rich, powerful, beautiful and fashionable. The Holy Host is only a wafer to him and to – that much he knows for sure – many of his colleagues. He deals with the matter in a middle-of-the-road, prudent way; so that whoever wins, no detriment will come to him. When he takes part in processions, he is aware of his prestige and high station in life. He never prays for anyone. Once they’re gone, they’re gone. He sees no rhyme or reason in life. He is just glad he is on the sunny side. When he is gone, he is gone. That’s all there is to it.
The cardinal is part of the narrative. He does not see the completed work of Christ as sufficient. He probably does not beleive in Christ. But the old woman seeks Christ with all her heart, and the Spirit will find her.
Despite the current feckless generation of priests and pastors. They may no longer preach the Mosaic law, but instead a green one, where you must have meatless days, atone for carbon credits, and bewail your privilege.
So you will be considered good, and be allowed into the Cathedral. Unfortunately the cost of this is that you converge with the narrative of Satan, and lose your soul. It is better, far better, to walk away.
1You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly exhibited as crucified! 2The only thing I want to learn from you is this: Did you receive the Spirit by doing the works of the law or by believing what you heard? 3Are you so foolish? Having started with the Spirit, are you now ending with the flesh? 4Did you experience so much for nothing? – if it really was for nothing. 5Well then, does God supply you with the Spirit and work miracles among you by your doing the works of the law, or by your believing what you heard? 6Just as Abraham “believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness,” 7so, you see, those who believe are the descendants of Abraham. 8And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, declared the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “All the Gentiles shall be blessed in you.” 9For this reason, those who believe are blessed with Abraham who believed.
10For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not observe and obey all the things written in the book of the law.” 11Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law; for “The one who is righteous will live by faith.” 12But the law does not rest on faith; on the contrary, “Whoever does the works of the law will live by them.” 13Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us – for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree” – 14in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith
The trouble with the law is that none of us can keep it. None of us. Now, some who are offended state that this is because you are talking about the Mosaic law. I put it to such that they have laws: the iron law of tolerance, the steel law of equality, and your moral fervour is as great, if not greater as any Calvinist.
The trouble is that we cannot keep the laws. If you demand that all Christians repent of their homophobia, (Come on, it is pride month, and the official celebrations are everywhere) then you better be prepared to tolerate the Christian faithful, who are praying for your soul.
If you consider the laws you have not kept, they are probably non sexual: our advertising system relies on one of the: covetousness. So we are not content with our home, car, family, friends, and want some photoshopped fantasy instead.
Let there be diversity in the church. Let us worship God to the best of our abillity. I would rather kneel in the back of a Papist church where I cannot partake of the host for I am Protestant, than be in a nominally Calvinist church where Christ is despised.
For I must not be one of them, even though I may have to walk away from all status and power.