Third Sunday of Lent—3 March A.D. 2013
“He who is not with Me is against Me;
One of the great errors of Modernism and the modern world is the idea that “compromise” is always a good and virtuous thing. Clearly, compromise is a good thing in some cases. When groups of people come together, each with their own needs and desires, it is a legitimate thing for each to “give in” a little so that everybody feels that their rights have been respected. This might be the case on a nation-wide scale, when congress gets together to decide where it will spend the taxpayers' money, or where it may make cut backs. Or compromise might be on the very basic level when Mom consults the family about what they would like for dinner, or how they would like to divide the household chores.
But sometimes we carry this idea of respecting each other’s desires to extreme. Modern society seems to confuse the ability to ask for something with the right to that something. This “spirit of cooperation” has led people to forget that there are absolutes; that there is such a thing as truth, and that there is such a thing as morality; and that neither truth nor morality are not found by taking a vote or reaching a consensus. Truth and morality may be discovered by people looking for them, but they are not fashioned through human agreement.
This is clear enough when we speak of scientific truth. None of us would dream that we could overturn the law of gravity by putting it to a vote. None of us would jump off a roof, even after a unanimous vote guaranteeing that we would not fall and get hurt. Yet, somehow, many are quite willing to base the most important decisions of their lives on public opinion. They are willing to act as though the law of God could be overturned by a popular vote, and to act as though the truths of religion could be formed by a consensus of opinion. Otherwise sane people, who wouldn't think of jumping off that roof, feel quite comfortable in behaving as though the Commandments and the Faith were determined by the Gallop Poll or the network news commentators. Christians ought to know better.
Our Lord is quite specific: You can't cast out the bigger devil with a lesser devil; “if you are not with Me you are against Me.”
You can't keep the Commandments by keeping a few of them; not even by keeping most of them; not even by keeping the most “popular” ones. You can't have the truths of the Faith by finding the lowest common denominator, scratching out articles of the Creed until nothing is left that offends anyone—because, by that time, nothing will be left—there will be no Faith. “Whoever does not gather with Me, scatters.”
The demands of truth and morality operate at all the levels of our society. In government we must demand representatives who respect God's Wisdom in their own lives and who craft It into the rules and regulations of our state and nation. In government, perhaps more than in any other institution, there seems to be the temptation to try to cast out the bigger devil with the lesser one; to vote for the candidate who isn't quite as bad, to vote for the one who is doing a little less evil, or moving in the wrong direction more slowly. That sort of reasoning ought to be carefully examined when election time comes around. As citizens of a Republic that claims to be governed “by the people,” we have a duty to take a hand in that government, for we are responsible for its actions.
Truth and morality must operate equally in the Church as well as in the state. A month doesn’t go by without some group demanding that the Pope further liberalize the Church according to “popular” ideas—as though the faith and morals of Catholics have not already been diluted beyond recognition since Vatican II. We keep hearing from the politicians and the media that the Church needs to adopt “modern” positions on things like divorce, contraception, homosexuality, abortion, and so forth. The poison of ecumenism moves us closer and closer to a worldwide religion that believes in nothing. Just as citizens ought to take an interest in their government, Catholics ought to know their Faith, and demand of their priests and bishops that it be practiced. Priests and bishops are supposed to be “other Christs”—Christ who is Truth Himself—and, lacking truth, they fail miserably, no matter if they are modernists or traditionalists; no matter how materially successful they may appear to be. As Baptized Catholics—particularly if we have been Confirmed—we have a duty to support objective truth and morality
But above all else, the admonition of today's Gospel applies to our private lives—the life that goes on within our families; the life that goes on within our own minds. It is pointless to think that we can “cast out the devils” in the Church or the state if we don't cast them out of ourselves to begin with. To the best of their abilities, each and every Catholic has the obligation to know and profess the truths that God has chosen to reveal to us. Each of us has the duty to keep the Commandments—all ten of them! And, sometimes there is an obligation to remind others of these same responsibilities—politely and tactfully, of course, but firmly.
We are “in the light” and the “fruit of the light is goodness and justice and truth” —all absolutes—all objective realities. We are to be “imitators of God,” the ultimate absolute. Let me close by pointing out that none of this is optional. Our Lord is telling us that we cannot be neutral in issues of truth and morality. We are not free, as many people think they are free, to pursue mindless pastimes while ignoring the issues of truth and falsity, good and evil, in the world around us.
“He who is not with Me is against Me;