Beware The False Utopia
By Fr. Robert J. Carr
If we look at the three readings today we see a common theme running through the beginning of two of them: following Christ in the face of opposition. We see Paul and Barnabas calling their community to perseverance and the Gospel begins with Judas leaving to betray Jesus. Yet, the second one is not an exception. This is a reading we look at in the face of great tribulation. Indeed, it is one of the two passages in the movie Titanic read as the ship sinks. As much as it appears to be an exception it fits the pattern the best.
A recent editorial in Christianity Today (May 2004) tells us that "Judges are engaged in linguistic gerrymandering by redefining religion in ways that threaten traditional understanding of our right to free exercise of religion." Our Right to freedom of religion is being restricted by the bench.
I think we figured that out awhile ago. Indeed, if you really study our situation you will see that, as has often been the case, Catholics in places like Boston and others are suffering from a classic religious persecution.
Well, where is this persecution coming from? The answer is simple it is rooted in those who maintain a false Utopian Vision. This vision has also gripped Catholic communities from within. This is a philosophy that rejects religious creeds in general and embraces instead a rationalistic one for the sake of a secular vision of idealistic happiness that actually cannot be achieved. Its main tenet can be found in the belief that all are by default saved.
If we look at Todayís second reading and forget that it comes from the Book of Revelation you see only a new Heaven and a New Earth where there is peace and justice.
However, if you look in your misalettes at the top right hand of the passage you will notice that you are reading the twenty-first chapter of Revelation. There is little in the previous twenty-one chapters that one can easily interpret as a utopian vision. Indeed, most of the Book Of Revelation details terrible persecutions in a desire to silence the voice of God. This is followed by the retaliation thereof of God against the persecutors to the vindication of the persecuted. Yet, in the same move, the terrible visions seen in the Book of Revelation are also the last resort techniques of the Father trying to convert members of humanity who have not listened under less stark realities. Letís face it, Revelations is not a book for the squeamish.
It is only at the end of that period of tribulation where there has been a weeding out of those who are hostile to God that this scene from the second reading happens. This is not Utopia for all, but only those who persevere to the end and enter the city. The obstinate are never saved.
There are two kinds of people in this world, those who seek Christ and those who reject him. One group is saved and the other is not. That is, has been and ever will be Christian teaching and it has its roots in similar teaching in the Jewish Faith. Godís mercy extends to those who respond to His grace and seek forgiveness by repentance. This mercy even extends to those who through no fault of their own are blinded from his truth. It cannot be extended to those who reject Godís grace, by definition.
Yet, there is another side. Our understanding of this reality is not designed to make us vindictively rejoice at the future plight of our persecutors, but to call as many to repentance to join us who also responded to that call and repented of our past histories and actions.
Our seeking Christ is rooted in the fact that Jesus is the fullness of Revelation of the Father. In a word, when humanity reached the fullness of time, Jesus came to his disciples to teach them the Anthropology they could not understand on their own. When we listen to the wisdom of the Father, when we seek the son and open ourselves to the Holy Spirit, we are transformed and made fully human and fully alive over time. We come to a reality of our existence that we never even dreamed of when we were lost in our sins of obstinacy and mediocrity.
Yet, we only begin that journey when we are docile to the grace that leads us to truth. That is the road to salvation. However, when we reject all that and seek to live a rationalistic gospel that dismisses the whole spiritual dimension or makes a mockery of the wisdom of God, we walk away from our source of life and we begin to die. This is because we reject the light of wisdom that comes to us from above. Being in relationship with the Father through the Son, and through whom we experience the light of wisdom in the Spirit is part and parcel of what it means to be human.
This means the more traditional teachings of sin and repentance are not old-fashioned uninspired words from a group of Neanderthals. They are rather deep spiritual truths that have profound ...
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