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Under False Accusations
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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.

Under False Accusations:
The Priests of the Congregation of Saint Paul (1886)

GOSPEL: (St. John 8:46-59) At that time; Jesus said to the multitude of the Jews:

  1. "Which of you shall convince me of sin? If I say the truth to you why do you not believe me?"

  2. "He that is of God, heareth the words of God. Therefore you hear them not, because you are not of God."

  3. "The Jews, therefore, answered and said to him: Do not we say well that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil?"

  4. "Jesus answered: I have not a devil; but I honor my Father, and you have dishonored me."

  5. "But I seek not my own glory: there is one that seeketh and judgeth."

  6. "Amen, amen, I say to you: if any man keep my word, he shall not see death for ever."

  7. "The Jews therefore said : Now we know that thou hast a devil. Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and thou sayest: If any man keep my word, he shall not taste death for ever."

  8. "Art thou greater than our father Abraham, who is dead? And the prophets are dead. Whom dost thou make thyself? "

  9. "Jesus answered: If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father that glorifieth me, of whom you say that he is your God. "

  10. "And you have not known him, but I know him. And if I shall say that I know him not, I shall be like to you, a liar. But I do know him, and do keep his word. "

  11. "Abraham your father rejoiced that he might see my day: he saw it, and was glad. "

  12. "The Jews therefore said to him: Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham? "

  13. "Jesus said to them: Amen, amen, I say to you, before Abraham was made, I am. "

  14. "They took up stones therefore to cast at him. But Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple."

Under the false accusations of the Jews how calm and self-possessed our Lord remains! He does not return passion for passion, anger for anger, accusations for accusations, violence for violence; but he meets calumny with the assertion of truth, and confounds his enemies by humility and meekness. They accuse him of sin; with the sublime simplicity of a pure conscience he dares them to convince him of sin. They call him names; "Thou art a Samaritan"; to so evident a falsehood he deigns no reply.

Finally, losing all control of themselves, they take up stones to cast at him; but he quietly goes out of the temple and hides himself, for his hour, the hour when he would bear in silence the accusations and indignities of man, and allow himself to be led to slaughter had not yet come.

In this our Savior teaches us how we should behave when the passions of others fall upon us and we are made the butt of accusations, just or unjust. In such circumstances what is generally your conduct? By no means Christian, I am afraid, but very worldly; for the world counts it true valor and justice to give tit for tat, to take tooth for tooth and eye for eye. Do you not give back as good and often worse than you get? Prudence, let alone Christianity, should dictate to you quite another conduct.

Your counter-accusations do but strengthen and confirm the calumny; they allow it to stand. "You're another" and "you're no better" are poor arguments to clear yourselves. It's a flank movement that does not cover your position, a feint that does not save you from attack. The answering of a question by asking another question is a smart trick, but no answer. A calm denial, if you could make it, or dignified silence would do the work more surely and thoroughly.

And so the fight of words goes on in true Billingsgate style; to and fro they fly thick and hot, hotter and hotter as passion rises on both sides. "One word brings on another", until white heat is reached and all control of temper lost. Then, as the Jews ended with stones, so you perhaps come to more serious passion than mere words. The result is quarrels, deadly feuds, bodily injuries, and worse, maybe bloodshed and jail. A cow kicked a lantern in a stable, and Chicago was on fire for days.

Some frivolous accusation that you pick up, while you should let it fall, starts within you a fire of anger that makes a ruin of your whole spiritual life and throws disorder all around you; families are divided; wife and husband sulk, quarrel, live a "cat and dog" life; friends are separated, connections broken. Peace flies from your homes, your social surroundings, your own hearts; the very horrors of hell are around you. Christian charity has been wounded to death, and the slightest of blows, the lightest of shafts has done it. All for the want of a little patience and self-possession!

How often we hear it said: "Oh! I have such a bad temper; I'm easily riz, God forgive me! I've a bad passion entirely." Well, my dear brethren, learn from this Gospel how you should control yourselves, how you should possess your souls in patience. One-half the sins of the world would be done away with, if only the lesson of this Gospel were laid to heart and put into practice.

What is the lesson?

Firstly, never seek self-praise in self-justification. Jesus turns aside the calumny of the Jews, but leaves the glorifying of himself in the hands of his Father, "who seeketh and judgeth."

Secondly, pay no attention to accusations that are absurd, evidently untrue, and frivolous. When Jesus is called names and is made out to he what everyone knows he was not "a Samaritan" he makes no answer.

Thirdly, if serious calumny, calculated to injure your usefulness in your duties and state of life, assail you, it then becomes your right, and sometimes your duty, to repel the calumny, as Jesus did when he was accused of "having a devil." But in this case your self-justification, like that of our Savior, should ever be calm, dignified, and Christian.

It should be a defense, never an attack. The true Christian parries, he does not give the thrust; he shields himself from the arrows of malice, he does not shoot them back. Superior to revenge, he pities enemies for the evil they do; he forgives them and prays for them, as our Lord has commanded.

This is Christian charity and Christian humility as well. But as it avails little to know what we should do, if we have not God's grace to enable us to do it, let us often say, especially in temptations to impatience: "0 Jesus, meek and humble of heart; make me like unto thee."

 

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


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