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The Crossroads at 23rd Street

 

"For, professing themselves to be wise, they became fools." (Romans 1:22)

 

Errors can be corrected and trends reversed if only our faith and determination does not fail us in our earnest quest for the truth.

Fair Weather Christians:
The Priests of the Congregation of Saint Paul (1886)

GOSPEL: (St. Matthew 11:2-10) At that time;

"Now when John had heard in prison the works of Christ, sending two of his disciples he said to him: Art thou he that art to come, or look we for another? And Jesus making answer said to them: Go and relate to John what you have heard and seen. The blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead rise again, the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he that shall not be scandalized in me. And when they went their way, Jesus began to say to the multitudes concerning John: What went you out into the desert to see? A reed shaken with the wind? But what went you out to see? A man clothed in soft garments? Behold they that are clothed in soft garments are in the houses of kings. But what went you out to see? A prophet? Yea, I tell you, and more than a prophet. For this is he of whom it is written: Behold, I send my angel before thy face, who shall prepare thy way before thee."

Gospel of the Day: Fair-Weather Christians

Our Lord asked this question of his disciples, my brethren, regarding his precursor, St. John the Baptist, whom also they had followed in his time. "Why," said he, "did you take such trouble to see him? Why did you think so much of him? Was it because he was like a reed shaken by the wind? No, but because he was just the opposite of that. You thought highly of him, you honored him as I myself honor him, because he did not shake and tremble at the breath of popular opinion; because he was not afraid of the world, or of all the powers that are in it; because he only thought of God, and of his duty; of the work that he had been sent to do."

But would our Savior be able to praise us so highly, my brethren, if he should come down now in our midst? Would he not say rather that we were indeed like reeds, turning to one side or another, according to the wind that happens to be blowing? I am afraid that he would have too good reason to find fault with the words and actions of many who call themselves Christians, even with those considered by many among you to be exemplar.

Who are these people whom he would find fault with? There are plenty of them. They are what I should call "fair-weather" Christians. They go to church regularly, perhaps, and to the Sacraments, it may be, quite often; when they are with pious people they can be just as pious as anybody else. They say their prayers not only in church, but at home, too; they certainly try in a way to be good; sometimes at least they would not say or do anything wrong of their own accord. And when they are alone they do very well, too; they resist many temptations, and avoid a great deal of sin. They are not what one would call hypocrites; far from it; they have a good many virtues, within as well as on the outside.

But the trouble with them is that they have little or none of what is commonly called "backbone". Alone or in good company they are all right; but take a look at them on the street, in the shop or factory, at their work or their amusements with their associates, and they do not stand the test so well. They laugh at every vulgar, filthy, and impure word that anyone else pretends to think is funny and wants them to laugh at, or if they do not laugh out right they give a miserable, cowardly smile. They hear something said about the faith which they know is a vile falsehood, but they say nothing in reply; perhaps they even allow that there is some truth in it. It takes a long while for anyone to find out that they are Catholics who does not guess it by their names or know where they go to church; it takes a great deal longer to find out that they are supposed to be good ones.

Now, what is the reason of this contemptible sneaking and meanness in those who ought to be brave and generous soldiers of Christ? It is just one thing. These people do not love God enough to dare to displease anyone else for his sake. Most of them have got pluck enough when something else is concerned. They would resent an insult to themselves; perhaps for years they have not been on speaking terms with many people on account of some trifling slight or injury. But when God's honor and love are concerned, the first breath of disapproval keeps them from standing up for him, as the reed bends with the gentlest breeze which strikes it.

Yes, that is the difficulty; these good people do not love God enough to stand up for him as all Christians worthy of the name should do. Let them think of this seriously. For if one does not love God enough to offend “bad men” for his sake, how can he love him above all things? And if one does not love God above all things, how can he be saved?

 

(Five-Minute Sermons: Low Masses: All Sundays of the Year - Volume II
The Priests of the Congregation of Saint Paul - 1886
)


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