The Great Christian Paradox

Posted: December 14, 2022 by datechguy in catholic, catholic devotions
Tags: , ,

Every normal man must be tempted at times to spit upon his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin slitting throats

H.L. Mencken via Ace of Spades’ Masthead

Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you

Jesus Christ Matthew 5:44

Lately I have been writing & tweeting a lot about people I really dislike.

You have people doing evil things, people condoning or approving evil things and people doing their best to pretend that evil is in fact good and sin is in fact virtue.

These days there seems to be an awful lot of that about and having been born in America’s golden age and having parents who were of the World War Two generation and grandparents from the 1800’s who understood the realities of life and did their best to teach us, it’s the type of thing that make a person understand the saying at the head of Ace’s blog.

For a Christian this is a very bad thing and that’s when I strive to remember one of the great paradoxes and non-optional doctrines of the Catholic Church.

We have the sense and we are constantly taught that Jesus died for our sins, this is reinforced by the words of Abolition said by the priest at the end of confessions:

God the Father of mercies, through the death and resurrection of his Son has reconciled the world to himself and sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of sins; through the ministry of the Church may God give you pardon and peace, and I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Note what the priest says here, “reconciled the world to himself “. Not just “you”, not just your friends and those you like, but “the world” and that includes every person that if you might put up against a wall if you had the power.

Sometimes the sense of one’s sin make it hard to think that God can have mercy on your, but I suspect it’s very easy for most people to think that their enemies are beyond God’s mercy and fit only for God’s justice.

This is the great danger, remember the words of the Our Father (the Lord’s Prayer) Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us and the warning Christ give us directly after this prayer:

If you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions.

Matt 6:14-15

Let’s be clear about this, as Christians we are not required to passively go along with what is being done, to pretend that it’s good and right and to ignore these sins and outrages, in fact one of the spiritual works of mercy is to admonish the sinner.

But we ARE required to love our enemies and pray for them, not that they may wreak the vengeance that Mencken suggests, for by your baptism you are no longer a “normal” man, but for their good and that they may find the mercy of God.

When you can look at the person you disgusts you the most and can realize that said person is so loved by God that he sent his only son to die to pay for that person’s sins then you’re doing Christianity right.

I’m not saying it’s easy, I find it very hard, particularly when dealing with someone who has wronged you directly, but it’s the heart and soul of Christianity, doing this is how you become Christlike.

Because the reality is that the quickest way to become the type of person who should to be put in front of a wall is to be the person who takes the people he thinks should be put in front of a wall and puts them there.

  1. Pod Hamp says:

    Thanks for the article. Maybe you could also address the Christian perspective on schadenfreude. Am I a bad Christian when I smile and laugh when someone I dislike gets what they had coming to them? How about cases where a mugger or carjacker takes the “room temperature challenge “? Reading the Bible, you can find several instances (like Psalms) where it looks like it is OK to wish harm on your enemies. What is your take on that?