Saturday, January 18, 2014

It takes too long. . .

The recent document from Pope Francis had ignited some fierce debates among even his most loyal Roman Catholics, including this one from former judge and now FOX News contributor Andrew Napolitano.  It is a well reasoned reply from an ardent Roman Catholic and worth a read.  I focus on merely one part of a sentence from the critique: [Francis] attacks free-market capitalism because it takes too long for the poor to get rich.

The fact that it takes too long to get rich is an impatience which Francis shares with people on the far extremes of all political thought and those within the Church who believe that social justice is a higher calling that the proclamation of Christ crucified.  If it is taking too long to go about it in the right way, then those on the right and left extremes of the political spectrum insist that the forces of threat, intimidation, sanction, and punishment from the government must be employed to hasten the path toward the desired goal and outcome.  It is the classic case of settling for a change of behavior instead of a change of heart.

Now I do not for one mean to suggest that the fear of getting caught and the fear of punishment should be abandoned by the kingdom of the left (the civil realm).  Such are the divinely appointed tools for the pursuit of the divinely appointed aims of the government in its dutiful obligation to protect, preserve, and sustain order.  What I do mean to suggest is the idea that these are the only means to be employed for real and honest social change.  Those within the Church so often grow impatient with the pace of reform in the secular world and insist that the Gospel has failed and therefore the resources of the Law must be employed to prod the process along.  Christianity has a confused focus, confused goals, and a confused definition of the Gospel.

I maintain that the crisis of Christianity is that we have grown impatient for the Kingdom of Heaven and so we are left with the effort to create our own heavenly image of an egalitarian state here on earth in which there is no morality which condemns but only the ethic of approval.  We have so confused the Gospel that it has become more a cause for social change than the redemption of the sinner through the blood of Christ that cleanses us from all sin.  It is a politically correct world in which justice is the signal cry of the kingdom of God instead of mercy and the gravest of all injustices is the refusal to affirm the sinner in his or her sin.  It takes too long to transform the world one person at a time through the preaching of the Cross, so the Church has substituted social causes for the real work of redemption and judges the success of the kingdom of God by the adroit use of political power and means to the desired end (liberal or conservative).

Impatience is, at its root, a lack of faith in God and in the means of grace through which He works to bring repentance to and redemption of the lost sinner marked for death.  If the Gospel is not working quickly enough, we fill the pews with churchly sanctioned entertainment as a substitute for the Mass or Divine Service in which the focus is upon the Word and Table of the Lord.  If the Gospel is not working quickly enough, we change it into a Gospel imperative (another word for Law) and back it up with whatever teeth we can employ.  If the Gospel is not working quickly enough, we drop the distinctives of doctrine and dogma in favor of a vague and generic Christianity rich with sentiment but with a poverty of truth.

As Pastor of a parish with multiple ministries for the poor and needy, I know the frustration and how easy it is to grow impatient with the pace of social improvement.  I see people within my parish who search for jobs, health care coverage, and some level of economic security and I know how quickly we become frustrated  by the often excruciatingly glacial speed of improvement.  I have worked through the flawed systems of health care, care for the mentally and emotionally ill, and the criminal justice systems and know first hand how easy it is to grow dissatisfied with the state of things and how tempting the desire to force improvements to come faster.  I know how hard it is to hold up the values of the single estate, marriage, family, children, and chaste lives in all these circumstances and how disappointing to see the often nuances of difference between those who claim faith and those who refute it.  It is often a consuming passion. The great temptation is to conclude the pace of change is too slow and to use other means to get where you want to be -- and so it has gone from income redistribution in the political sphere to entertainment style worship in the churches.

Faith trusts not only the will of God but the timetable of the Lord.  God works whether we see the signs of His progress or not, whether we can chart the pace of that progress or not.  From time to time we see things clearly but the other 99.99% of the time we walk through the murky uncertainty and disappointment of the day by faith, trusting in what is unseen but divinely appointed.  That is enough.  It is not a call to inaction but a solemn awareness of what IS our calling and what is not...  Everything takes too long -- except the things we do not want or like.  The whole record of Scripture is the uniform cry of humanity captive to sin and its death "how long, O Lord?"  And the answer is the same.  "Trust Me..."  How long is always too long for us and always just right for the salvific purpose and plan of God.  Thus the constant tension of and relearning of the sufficiency of grace the call to trust in that grace -- implicit within it the call to trust also God's timing.  Such is not a cause for inaction but for doing what we are given to do and leaving the rest to the Lord whose Church and world they are.


Daniel Efosa Uyi said...

hey nice post meh. I like your style of writing. The way you writes reminds me of an equally interesting post that I read some time ago on Daniel Uyi's blog titled A Simple Idea That Will Help You Succeed Faster In Life .
keep up the good work.


Pastor Mark W. Love said...

Excellent piece! Taking God not according to His Word, but according to my experience and the ideas that flow from them. Lord have mercy!!!

Dr.D said...

Francis is a marxist nitwit, and an extreme light weight. Oh, B16, how we miss you.