November 16, 2012
This is the first of nine posts on the subject of sharing in the sins of others.
Moral theology seems to have been a dead letter in the pulpits for the past 50 years or so. Many people church shop or parish shop for the priests who don’t challenge them to grow in virtue but rather confirm them in the sappy “God loves you the way you are, I’m OK, you’re OK” theology. One of the biggest laughs I ever had was when I read that some priests were telling the elderly that they didn’t need to go to Confession “because old people don’t commit sins.” They evidently weren’t looking at the Congress of the United States and the White House where there are plenty of pro-death, anti-Christian politicians who are in their 70s or more. Nor were they looking at the sins any ordinary person falls into through neglect of hearing the Word of God and keeping it.
God will judge His priests and bishops, the politicians and ordinary citizens as well. Fortunately that’s His job and not ours. We have an obligation, though, to discern objective sin around us and keep, to the best of our ability, from falling into the pit with the ubiquitous “Everybody, Elses” who want to set the standards of morality wherever they please.
In this Year of Faith the Pope has called us to study our Catechism and grow closer to Jesus. If we are detaching ourselves from our willfulness and moving our hearts toward Christ, we are using God’s graces for our own good and the good of all. Every now and then it’s good to review what the Church has always taught about sin to confirm ourselves on the narrow way.
CCC 1868 talks about sin as a personal act, and how we cooperate in sins of others and share their guilt. That’s right. Even if somebody else actually does the dirty deed, we have sinned too under certain circumstances. In A Practical Commentary on Holy Scripture Bishop Knecht summarizes the nine ways we share in the sins of others.
Roboam, son of Solomon, listened to the young men who had been his companions growing up, not the elders who cautioned him to treat the people justly. When the people begged him for mercy he said: “And now my father put a heavy yoke (taxes) upon you: but I will add to your yoke. My father beat you with whips: but I will beat you with scorpions.” The whole story is in 3 Kings 12 and 2 Paralip. 10.
In this case, bad counsel ultimately led to a couple of golden calves, murder, and big trouble for Israel.
In 2 Machabees 6 the old man Eleazar is urged by his friends to go along with the idolatry of Antiochus IV and feign compliance with the king’s command to eat the meats offered to the idols. Eleazar answered them:
For it doth not become our (my) age to dissemble: whereby many young persons might think that Eleazar at the age of fourscore and ten years, was gone over to the life of the heathens.
And so, they, through my dissimulation and for a little time of a corruptible life, should be deceived, and hereby I should bring a stain an curse upon my old age.
For though, for the present time I should be delivered from the punishments of men, yet should I not escape the hands of the Almighty, neither alive nor dead.
Wherefore by departing manfully out of this life, I shall shew myself worthy of my old age.
And I shall leave an example of fortitude to young men, if with a ready mind and constancy I suffer and honorable death, for the most venerable and most holy laws. And having spoken thus, he was forthwith carried to execution.
And they that led him and had been a little before more mild were changed to wrath for the words he had spoken, which they thought were uttered out of arrogance.
Compromise on the uncompromisable has led many souls to hell and continues to do so. Counseling compromise with evil is sinful even if the counselee doesn’t go along with the compromise.
The last example is the situation around the death of St. John the Baptist (Matt. 14: 1-12, Mark 6: 14-19, and Luke 9: 7-9).
In the November 15th issue of The Wanderer, Rey Flores wrote an article titled “A New Dawn for Catholics in America.” He quotes Valerie Jarrett, the power behind the presidency – Obama’s closest counselor – as saying the following in an impromptu speech to three senior staffers running Obama’s re-election campaign in Chicago and confirmed by reliable sources:
After we win this election, it’s our turn. Payback time. Everyone not with us is against us and they better be ready because we don’t forget. The ones who helped us will be rewarded; the ones who opposed us will get what they deserve. There is going to be hell to pay. Congress won’t be a problem for us this time. No election to worry about after this is over and we have two judges ready to go.
A vengeful counselor to a weak President who will hurt many people in this nation for his own selfish purposes. That is cooperating in grave sins against our people.
Herodias counseled her daughter to ask for the head of the Baptist just as Valerie Jarrett counsels Obama to get even with those who oppose him. In Herodias’s eyes, John the Baptist got what he deserved. Payback for speaking the truth to Herod. In Jarrett’s eyes, true Christians will get what they deserve.
We must neither give counsel nor take counsel contrary to God’s laws. We will all be needing to practice the virtue of fortitude to stand up as Eleazar did to the ruling power which counsels (and may even try to force) us to deny Christ. If we are not ready, we will end up as Judases. Who wants that?
Coming up: the second way we participate in the sins of others.
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R. Now and forever!
(Click on the link above to read why I end my posts this way.)
This post linked to Saints and Scripture Sunday.
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