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The Easy Path or the Hard Path

If you are reading this, then you are probably trying to live a Christian life. What does that entail? It includes prayer. It means that we believe that Jesus was crucified on the Cross and rose on the third day, revealing the Resurrection. It means giving praise and worship to God. It means trying to live as God teaches us.

Is it easy?

We want God to meet us where we are at. This is the easiest way for us. It doesn’t require a lot of effort on our part. Furthermore, I think people think that if God comes to them, they can stay where they are at. By this, I mean they can keep living the way they have been. They think that God coming to them validates their behavior.

God does not come to us to validate our behavior. God comes to us because He loves us that much. Think of the father in the Parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32). The father is so happy to see his younger son return that he runs out to meet him. He is so happy that he throws a party. However, never in that story does the father ever say what his lost son did was okay. His welcoming his lost son back into his house would come with the expectation of the son following the customs of the father’s house.

Yes, God comes us to where we are at in our lives, no matter our sins, but He loves us too much to leave us in our sin. In John 8:1-11, Jesus does not condemn the woman caught in adultery. However, neither does He say can continue her adultery. Instead He says, “Go, and from now on do not sin any more.

There is “right” and “wrong” behavior. Following Jesus, in addition to prayer and worship, requires us to do what is right in God’s eyes. Being Christian requires us to be moral people as God defines moral. This is part of what it means to pray, “thy will be done” in the Lord’s Prayer.

Yet, it seems society has lost its moral compass. There is a loss of respect for life (abortion, death penalty, assisted-suicide). There is a loss of the sense of sexual intimacy as a gift from God and an act of love rather than just something one does for physical pleasure.

These topics are not without controversy. In fact, they can very controversial. Most people seek to avoid controversy so they say nothing to “keep the peace.”

Is that what Jesus did? Take a look at Luke 12:49-53. Jesus himself understands controversy. He himself says He came not to bring peace but “division.” Jesus wasn’t looking to start a fight but He know his teaching would bring division between family and friends. He did not let that stop him for He knew the people need to hear the truth.

It’s not easy to talk about morality. I haven’t always talked about Catholic moral teaching as often as I should because I too like to avoid controversy. I ask God for the gifts of knowledge, understanding, and wisdom from the Holy Spirit to know the right words to say. I also ask for the gift of courage to actually say it.

The world needs to hear the Truth (see my video, Where Do We Go for Truth?). This is true for people outside the Catholic Church as well as people within our Catholic Church. The approach of many people in the Catholic Church is to ask what is minimum I need to do to get into Heaven has gone on too long. It is not enough to go to Mass and pray when we are in need. We need to live our faith in everything we do.

We are not perfect. We are sinners. Thankfully, God comes to us in our sins and heals us. For, “as the saying goes, the Church is not a “hotel for saints,” it’s a “hospital for sinners” (18-19). I take this quote from a book, Good News About Sex & Marriage: Answers to Your Honest Questions about Catholic Teaching, by Christopher West (Updated, Revised & Expanded Edition. Cincinnati: Franciscan Media. 2018).

In this book, Christopher West talks honestly and boldly about Catholic moral teaching on sexuality. He discusses how male and female compliment one another and come together in a way two men and two women cannot. He talks about sexual intimacy as an act of love. He talks about how what we do with our bodies reveals who we are as a person.

Some people say the Church should say out of the bedroom. To think this way is to miss the point of our sexuality. It is to be an act of love. Love comes from God. God created us “male and female” (Genesis 1:27). Our faith is not just what we do for an hour on Sunday and in private prayer. Our faith is to be part of our whole life.

It may seem easiest to say nothing. However, the easiest path is not the most rewarding. Our greatest reward lies in the Kingdom of Heaven. The path of Christ can be hard. The reward is worth it.

It might seem desirable to form our own utopia (see my article “Looking for Peaceful Existence”) but we are called to build up the Kingdom of God in the world. We are not to force our faith on people but God wants us to offer his Truth to all.

I personally feel called to speak up as Ezekiel was in the Parable of the Watchman (see my homily for the 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time). Yet, I am not sure how. Talking about our Catholic morality is not simple. Certainly, it includes homilies. I think it may also includes blog articles, longer articles on my website, and maybe even some presentations. Right now, I don’t know. So, I ask your prayers for me to know what God wants me to say and do to spread his Truth in a loving and kind way.

What do you think?

Peace,

Fr. Jeff

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