About Harvester's Wanted:

A Catholic priest's reflections along the path of Faith.

When this life is complete, I pray they say I lived for the Greater Glory of God +AMDG+

PRAYER REQUESTS through link on right side-bar.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Jesus and the Pharisees: Would Jesus Unfriend His Enemies?

Seemingly every time he turned around, there they were, the Pharisees, that Jewish religious/political group that hounded Jesus at every turn. They were relentless, and in the end, they conspired to have Jesus put to death. In the Gospels there are 89 references to the Pharisees (Matthew-31, Mark-12, Luke-27, and John-19) and most of them do not speak to a cozy relationship; there are four references to the Pharisees as a “brood of vipers” which helps to define the kind of relationship they had. All the same, there are three references, all found in the Gospel of Luke, to Jesus having dinner with a Pharisee. This willingness to have a meal with his enemies is indicative of Jesus’ willingness to love his enemies (Matthew 5:43-48). Humanly speaking we do not often break bread with those we hate or mistrust - to share a meal is intimate, something reserved for our friends and trusted companions. Nevertheless, there we have it, Jesus going out of his way to dine with his enemies.   

Jesus Dining with the Pharisee 

This willingness to share a meal with those who hated him speaks volumes to Jesus’ desire for us to continue interacting with those whom we disagree. If you are active on social media you have probably seen the threats to unfriend, unfollow, or block people with opposing political views. There seems to be an ever-present temptation to isolate ourselves amongst those with whom we agree. I am not immune to this temptation, and sadly I have fallen into this isolationist mode several times. I am no saint, but I recognize that Facebook, and other forms of social media, already cherrypicks the information it believes I will be mostly interested in viewing. We are already isolated before we have the opportunity to make decisions that result in further isolation. It is, therefore, more necessary than ever to heed the call of Christ and actively encounter ‘our enemies.’ 

This call to encounter our enemies is not limited to Christ’s example of eating with the Pharisees; it extends to what Christ decided not to do. With infinitely less effort than it takes me to snap my fingers Jesus Christ, God-made-man, could have wiped the Pharisees from the face of the earth, and not only that, he could have removed all memory of them whatsoever. It is so easy to feel justified in our hatred of ‘our enemies’ but the only one who is truly justified instead gave us a living example of mercy. Instead of obliterating the Pharisees, Christ shared a meal with them, and ultimately died for them.   

When we decide that a person’s views are not worth listening to we are only a hop, skip, and not even really a jump away from deciding that they no longer have the right to live. A bit extreme? I know, but can we honestly say it isn’t true? Can we honestly say that we are immune to the temptation of putting ‘our enemies’ to death? To take this a step further, can we be assured that those with whom we disagree would never consider our demise? I’m afraid, in this climate of political vitriol and polarization, we are far from such assurances. Likewise, it is not surprising that similar ideological disputes have infected dialogue between Christians and in the Church.   

We hear in Sacred Scripture that “if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord.” (Romans 14:8) Jesus shows us that sharing a meal with ‘our enemies’ is not the limit of how far we may be asked to go - dying for ‘our enemies’ is not outside the realm of possibility.
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Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Put an End to Childish Ways

When I was a child, I spoke like a child,
I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child;
when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways.
~ 1 Corinthians 13:11

I want nothing more than to publicly swear that I have never spoken in a way that is demeaning, or insulting, towards women, but I cannot, and I admit that; I have spoken in ways that I am ashamed of... and I’m sorry. I am sorry for all the times I have told a crude joke or said something negative about a woman based on her looks or being a woman; I am sorry for all the times that I have used ‘locker-room talk.’ What I can do is assure everyone who cares to hear it that I now do my utmost to avoid such talk. I believe that to talk in such a way is childish, and not the way that a true man speaks. Just as Saint Paul tells us, he put an end to childish ways, and speaking down to women - joking about sexually assaulting women - is not only childish, it is dangerous, because it perpetuates a culture that uses, and abuses, women and then trivializes such behavior as ‘boys being boys.’ It is not just boys being boys; it is an aspect of the culture of death that degrades people and makes use of others for one’s twisted pleasure.* It saddens me to see men, and women, defend such talk as anything but an insult to every human person on this earth. 

For she is fearfully and wonderfully made! ~ Psalm 139:14

When I hear women talk about the vile things they hear from complete strangers as they walk down the street I’m appalled that any man could speak in such a way and not instantly be overcome with their mother’s disapproving voice ringing in their ears! Perhaps that is part of the problem - perhaps the disapproval of our mothers is no longer enough, perhaps the disapproval of our fathers is needed? Thus my intention in writing this reflection, to publicly declare my disapproval, as a spiritual father, for any such language or verbal abuse. We must recognize this behavior for what it is - an assault on the dignity of every human person!   

My dear sisters in Christ, this does not discount your role in upholding the dignity of your fellow women. It is my understanding that you can often be judgmental and insulting towards one another, sometimes based on the same trivial and superficial characteristics that men use to demean women. We must all put aside childish ways and together work diligently to build up the Body of Christ, otherwise we all suffer the same indignity.