Is There Hope for the Hypocritical Church?
Devotional Thought of the Day:
19 and if you are confident that you are a guide for the blind and a light for those in darkness,o 20 that you are a trainer of the foolish and teacher of the simple,p because in the law you have the formulation of knowledge and truth— 21 then you who teach another, are you failing to teach yourself? You who preach against stealing, do you steal?q 22 You who forbid adultery, do you commit adultery? You who detest idols, do you rob temples? 23 You who boast of the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law? 24 rFor, as it is written, “Because of you the name of God is reviled among the Gentiles.” Romans 2:19-24 NABRE
To those, therefore, who believe in divine love, He gives assurance that the way of love lies open to men and that the effort to establish a universal brotherhood is not a hopeless one. He cautions them at the same time that this charity is not something to be reserved for important matters, but must be pursued chiefly in the ordinary circumstances of life……The Lord left behind a pledge of this hope and strength for life’s journey in that sacrament of faith where natural elements refined by man are gloriously changed into His Body and Blood, providing a meal of brotherly solidarity and a foretaste of the heavenly banquet. (1)
The words from Romans above hit home hard.
Do we who preach learn the lessons we preach with such clarity?
Or is our preaching nothing more than a pious role, acting without the faith, but with the knowledge we have bene given? Is our message nothing more than a false mask, an act which we think they can’t see through?
Does the world, does our community hate God, not because of who God is, or what He has called into existence, but because of our hypocrisy?
By the way, this isn’t just for those who preach as part of their pastoral vocation, but those who preach with their lives through other vocations, as husbands and wives, employers and employees, and our “vocation” in social media.
You see Paul’s words from Romans this morning aren’t just applicable to the Jewish leaders of his day, but to us, to all who claim to call out “Lord! Lord!” while turning aside our brothers and sisters who are as broken, and are as made in the image of God.
So this day, do we need to be confronted as Paul did to those to whom he wrote? Do we need to have the law drive us back to the cross, back to the altar, back to the place where we can cry, “Lord” but add to it, “have mercy on me a sinner!”
We need his grace; we need His love, his mercy, his peace so that we can live by faith. A faith that betrays the hypocrisy. We can hear the law and the gospel we preach. We can have the hope of being transformed from a bunch of hypocrites into a community, a fellowship that is charitable and loving. Not just in the big things, but in the daily struggles we daily have.
That is the effect of the law – the Law we need to hear, as it drive us to the cross, to the place where our brokenness finds compasssion and healing. Vatican II sees this in the Eucharist, in that moment where Christ’s broken body transfigures ours, and His righteousness, His love, His life is found in us!
This is what each sacrament is, whether the Lord’s Supper, Baptism, Confession nd Absolution, and even prayer. It is that moment when our hypocritical nature is overwhelmed by the incarnation, where love washes away all that is not love.
As we live in those moments, then our God is found attractive, not reviled, and as we see Him lifted up in our praises – people are drawn to Him, through our lives.
No longer hypocrites, but those broken, who find healing in Christ while helping others heal.
(1) Catholic Church. “Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World: Gaudium Et Spes.” Vatican II Documents. Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2011. Print.