Many years ago, under a full moon and a weight of distress that was spirit crushing, Jesus prayed. He was hours from succumbing willfully to a torture and death that would be difficult and excruciatingly painful, but what seems to cause Jesus the most devastation this evening and what caused him a grief and torment so deep that he actually prayed to the Father about it – was the Unity of us – His Body. He saw the disharmony and the disunity that would one day separate all of us as His Body, the Body that in just hours would be lifted high onto a cross, and he asked the Father if this cup could pass him by
Many when reading the story of Jesus ponder about this suffering he underwent in the Garden of Gethsemane and surmise that the torment he suffered was caused by the knowledge of just how horrid, humiliating and tortuous this death would physically be, and I would imagine that these thoughts were definitely a part of the suffering he underwent in the garden, but Jesus did not ask that this cup of physical brutality be passed by him, what he specially asked the Father for was that WE all be one, as He and the Father are one. Jesus could see all of us from this Mount of Olives – he could see that his mystical Body, HIs Church, the Bride that he was dying for would fracture and splinter, and in that breakage, His Body would be fractured. Not a bone of his was broken during his suffering on that Good Friday, but we “fractured” His Body. We as his “followers” we able to break him in a way that His tormenters and enemies were unable to. That is what causes Jesus so much agony in the garden that night, the fact that as a Church, his “followers” would scatter, just as his apostles did, and splinter to a point that the Faith and the Church he lived to leave us, and died to save, would one day be divided so vehemently. The apostles would eventually unite, as will all of us in the final days, and in eternity. We will have no choice but to be One in Eternity. In Heaven all are Catholic, and all offer praise and worship in union together. Our current state of disharmony is not Heaven, and is not what Jesus wants.
What is interesting is that many of us Catholics don’t recognize or even consider this fracturing of all of God’s people as something that is not a part of His Divine plan. So many of us don’t understand that the Body of Christ is One. We sing about it and even pray the words regarding Christ’s body as being one, yet we don’t understand and don’t seem to care if we are. We have become so lukewarm, that knowing, understanding, and truly being on fire for Jesus is not something that we strive for, or pursue. We accept that all other Faiths are okay and acceptable, and are equal to our own, when they clearly are not. Jesus lived to establish a Church, and that Church is the Roman Catholic Church under the authority of Peter and the successors of his Apostles.
Never has this ignorance and stupidity been so clearly demonstrated for me as it was a few days ago. When our beloved American President, George H W Bush died days ago, there was a very beautiful Protestant ceremony performed. Many attended this ceremony, many of different religious faiths and creeds – both Christian and non Christian. During this ceremony The Nicene Creed was recited. The next day, social media lit up with so many who were disgusted by President Trump and his wife, who stood reverently during this Creed, yet did not join in it’s recitation. People were outraged. I know many Catholics who expressed outrage that the President and First Lady would not recite this Creed in a tradition that was not theirs.
Yes, the Nicene Creed is a prayer that Catholics, well some of us anyway, pray each Sunday during Mass. Those of us who take the dictates of the Church to heart and follow Her, meet every Sunday for Mass and together as a community we celebrate and offer our own lives as well as the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ up to our Father in Heaven. We unite and become one in the act of sacrifice, and right before that offering occurs, we recite what we believe as a united Roman Catholic Church in the Nicene Creed. What so many of us fail to understand, is that not only are the words of this Creed important, but the fact that we stand together as a community of Faith is important. If we are standing as a community of Faith in an Protestant Church, we are not in unity with the beliefs of those brothers and sisters of ours who profess this creed in this non Cathoic “tradition”. So, if we stand in that community and say those words with them, we are not being loyal or Faithful to the One, Holy and Catholic Church, because we are not standing as a community of Roman Catholics, united as one in seven Sacraments and the Eucharist. Reciting these words, that we truly believe, in a gathering of those who worship in a way that we do not unite with in our Faith and belief is not appropriate and could even be considered apostasy. How can we join in that prayer with people outside the One True Holy and Catholic Faith without denying what we truly believe? We believe in things that they simply do not, and this is a huge separation. We do not believe in female Clergy, same sex marriage, contraception, abortion and many other very important issues that are non-negotiable for us as Catholics. Protestants do not have the divinity of Christ truly present in the Eucharist. Not all Protestand communities even beleive the same things. If we stand in united prayer and profess this Creed in a different Faith community, we deny our own belifs and unite in the beliefs that are not Truth. We are publicly declaring that we are in union with beliefs that are at odds with the most basic tenants of our Roman Catholic Faith, and we cannot do this in good conscience. It’s a big deal! What we do, is a big deal!!!!
If we decide that we will make this public decree in an attempt “get along” or be “tolerant”, then we really don’t understand the magnitude of what being one, united in the Body of Christ really means, and this lukewarmness demonstrated by I would guess the majority of Catholics today, is very dangerous and problematic. How we worship is paramount to our salvation and to how we relate and become one with Christ. Jesus came to bring us Truth, and he was not tolerant of sin. Jesus died for Truth, and did not acquiese or conform to evil, or to the opposite of Truth, which is deceit and lies. Jesus proclaims in Revelation, that he will spit those out who are lukewarm. He seems to despise this state of lukewarmness most of all. Being lukewarm is lazy, and non-committal. It is to live life without passion. Even those who are cold to Christ, seem to have a passion and purpose in that. Jesus lets those of us who are cold and lukewarm in the Faith walk away, see John 6: 66. It takes effort to be united. It takes effort to know and love God. A lot more effort than just one hour each Sunday can afford. So, it is not surprising that those of us who consider ourselves to be Catholic yet cannot even spend one hour a week to offer Sacrifice and become united to the Body of Christ at Mass as Christ himself has commanded, are considered to be in a state of mortal sin. Just because some, even many don’t accept the Truth offered in the Church that Christ founded, doesn’t make it not Truth. Ignorance of the faith because one is lukewarm in that Faith, gets us spit out and separated from Christ. Professing beliefs in union with a community of those steeped in heresy and deceit whether in ignorance or tolerance, is dangerous territory for our souls.
I certainly don’t want to among those spit out by Christ. Do you?