Modern Secularism’s Triple Distortion of Divine Morality


 

 

I continue to be amazed by how this secular society tries to twist Divine Mercy into blinking, happy-go-lucky acceptance of every behavior one can imagine.  This warped and sinister reasoning follows a three-way distortion of logic, Church teaching, and Divine Mercy.

First, we are told that, since we are all created in God’s image, it therefore follows that we must be inherently good and, by extension, that everything we do is, at some point, inherently good. This twisted logic, of course, pretends that just because we are initially created in God’s image that, therefore, it follows that we are as infallible as God is. It is the height of logical absurdity to say, for example, that since we are created in God’s image our actions are created in the image of God’s actions.  God is all good, loving, merciful, just, and wise.  Is anyone who has not been drinking heavily lately willing to argue that we are all good, loving, merciful, just, and wise? Since we were initially created in God’s image, but somehow, along the way, have managed to mess that up to some degree, then it follows that we must be very capable of sin, distortion, confusion, and many other taints and stains on that initial beauty. In short, we may be created in God’s image, but that does not therefore mean that everything we do is inherently good, wise, or acceptable, as our distorted secular modernists would have us believe.

Following the above logic, if God is perfect and we are not and therefore fully capable of imperfection, then how can it be that such a God would then accept, embrace, and respect our imperfection?  If perfection accepts imperfection, does not that perfection therefore become imperfect in the process which, in the case of God, is impossible?

Second, in order to cover up the twists and turns of the first distortion, a second distortion is put forth. Namely, that God accepts people as they are but that the Church is the one which has it all wrong, and has excluded, rejected, bullied, and abused anyone it deems different through the ages. Under this fable, we are supposed to believe that the Church is this evil institution whose main conduct over the ages has been to judge, reject, and persecute anyone who does not conform to its twisted view of what is right and wrong. This argument will focus on the clerical sexual abuse of children, the Spanish Inquisition, and anything else it can drag up to prove that the Church has been wrong a lot, and has hurt people a lot, simply because it has failed to protect and embrace the voiceless and marginalized in our society.

The problem with this second fable is that true history shows that, while the Church is imperfect because humans are imperfect, it has, by and large, done much more good than evil, and helped many more people than it has harmed, over the course of  history. Also, Church positions are grounded in clear core Church teaching, and not fanciful notions created a few years ago.  The argument contends that Church teaching which contradicts modern societal views is simply outdated, ancient, and narrow minded. Such contentions, of course, assume that current practices and values are somehow more enlightened, wise, and true to God’s original intent.  Again, we go back to the distortion that modern thinking and practices are somehow better than anything believed or practiced in the past and that anyone contradicting modern thinking should be excluded, marginalized, rejected, and the like.  It does not take a genius to see the absurdity of arguing that the Church has been guilty of excluding those who are different while at the same time having no problem with excluding, rejecting, mocking, and ignoring those who are different from that very same proposition.  If there is one trait which modernist secular thinking is fully versed in, it is hypocristy!

Lastly, modern secular society confuses, either unintentionally or not, compassion with acceptance.  According to this logical pretzel, the Good Samaritan’s actions mean that he was to fully accept, embrace, and welcome everything the injured man he helped practiced or believed!  In other words, if the Good Samaritan happened to rescue a a thief, rapist, selfish lout, or atheist then, according to our learned secular modernists, the Good Samaritan would not really be “good” unless he “compassionately” embraced and accepted the theft, rape, selfishness, or disbelief in God exhibited by the man he rescued!  One can only hope that these people do not seriously believe that, because one is compassionate, that means that one must therefore accept and embrace everything about the one assisted in one’s compassion!  I can feed the hungry man who is a wife beater, for example, without embracing, accepting, promoting, and defending his abuse of his wife!  Helping a dying thief does not mean that I embrace theft.  Jesus loved the sinner without accepting the sin, as He so clearly demonstrated by telling the woman caught in adultery to “sin no more”.  The modern distorters would have us believe that true love ultimately equates with total acceptance and welcoming of everything about the one loved, lest we be practicing exclusion and not “welcoming” the “different” one.

Christ’s beautiful promise of Divine Mercy comes to those who turn reject their wrong and sincerely seek forgiveness in a spirit of genuine, trusting humility, obedience, and conformity to God’s Word and Will.  Ultimately, Divine Mercy is an open invitation to humbly conform, not a get-out-of-jail card!

It is eerie and ironic that modern secularism’s twisted view of Divine Mercy is reflected in the typical public school classroom, where administrators and faculty are either afraid to point out incorrect behavior or attitudes or have actually bought into the lie that wisdom and tolerance demand acceptance and even embracing dissident behavior.  Modern secularism spews the fraud that differences are automatically to be celebrated, defended, embraced, accepted, and even promoted as opportunities for tolerance and rejection of intolerance and narrow-mindedness.

Modern educational theory, for example, increasingly mirrors this trend toward seeing compassion in diluted, blurred, all-embracing tolerance, acceptance, embracing, and even promotion of rebellion, insolence, ignorant arrogance, and victimization. Consequently, we see schools paralyzed at the whim of bullying, cheating, disrespectful, ignorant, and arrogant rebels who believe that the institution has a duty to cater to individual whim and agendas no matter    what.

Christ embodies loving compassion and mercy in the face of sincere contrition, genuine humility, and a true desire to change. This Divine Mercy, so profoundly exhibited in the writings of St. Faustina, is the true example of Heavenly tough love.  In contrast, modern secularism’s version of such mercy, labeled as “compassion”, “tolerance”, “acceptance”, and a “welcoming” open-mindedness, is nothing but diluted rationalization wrapped in the false garb of compassion.

Anyone who sees an eerie similarity between such a diluted, feel good morality and Common Core education, for example, is not far off the mark.  Many years ago, students were rewarded for getting correct answers, taught about absolute truths and principles which did not waver, and given tools for finding precision and clarity. Today, 2 + 2 can be 5 if you can explain why you feel that way, tell us the process you followed to get to that answer, or will be deeply offended or scarred for life should any teacher dare to point out your error.

At the end of the day, modern, secularist society is not so much looking for absolute, correct answers as for absolutely acceptable answers which avoid the sort of precision, accountability, personal responsibility, and clarity that can put the spotlight on incompetence, inconsistency, hypocrisy, or personal agendas.  Ultimately, this society defines mercy as being at the mercy of the individual, not as the caring, firm, compassion of a loving God.

2015 Gabriel Garnica

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Christ is The Best Math Teacher Ever…..Seriously.


Many folks look at math as an old enemy, still licking the wounds of distant brushes with word problems and equations that were never fully understood, much less solved. For others, math is a comfortable pair of slippers that bring warm and fuzzy memories of solving problems other students could never even figure out how to start tackling. I probably belonged, and still live, in a third, middle group, where math is a challenge sometimes but a defeated challenge in the end. Actually, I now like algebra much more than I did way back in high school. Perhaps I have finally found the handle of about as much math as I will ever be able to handle, or need, and that is OK by me.

I love putting together things that seemingly have nothing to do with each other, and figuring out ways that, in fact, they do have something to say to each other. Such is the case with math and faith for, at first glance, the only connection between a plus sign and a cross is that they look alike and many people tend to pray right before taking math tests.  Accepting the premise that math can be a motivator for prayer, I think that there is a lot more here than meets the eye, or the soul.

For starters, math is about adding and subtracting, and so is Christ’s message to us.  If we add graces and good works to our ledger while subtracting our sinfulness and destructive attitudes, we will be making a very positive investment in our spiritual future.  If, on the other hand, we add sinful behaviors and thoughts and subtract our love and concern for others in the process, we will be on our way toward a result far worse than the most difficult calculus exam ever was.

Christ tells us to subtract what takes us away from God, and add what brings us closer to God, and that is about as simple an equation as any salvation seeker can find. We are taught that, if approached properly, confession subtracts, not only our sins but, as Vinny Flynn tells us in his 7 Secrets of Confession, the root reasons for our sin, which is far more important.  Ultimately, our time, effort, priorities, mind, soul, and life itself are all fixed containers with only so much space. It is up to each of us to choose how we will allocate that space, either by adding or subtracting good works and intentions and, just as importantly, destructive works and intentions.

Christ also teaches us to share our blessings, time, and love with others which, by definition, requires us to divide our emotional, personal, financial, and temporal resources among those we wish to share with.  He promises, and demonstrates, that those who divide what they have out of love will watch Our Lord multiply their efforts many times over.  Is this not what He accomplished with the multiplication of the loaves and fish as well as at The Last Supper. In both cases, Our Lord divided in order to multiply.

I would like to close this mathematical foray into Our Lord’s example with three points. First, speaking of the multiplication of the loaves and fish, we are told that Christ asked His followers to search among the people for what food could be obtained. We are also told that thousands of people were present. It is not irrational or unrealistic to assume that, among all of those thousands, at least 10% brought some food of their own, which would mean that around 500, if not more, people had some kind of food available yet, from those hundreds, only one young boy  offered what little he had. Despite the utter selfishness of the situation where many refuse to share and only one does, Our Lord overcame that selfishness of the crowd, and used the boy’s generosity, to fashion a multiplication of blessings for all.

The second closing point to consider goes back to our comparison between a plus sign and the cross which, for all intents and purposes, are roughly the same geometric figure. While most would certainly consider a cross a  most negative shape given the kind of terrible deaths inflicted on them, Our Lord converts what is generally regarded as a negative image or shape into a most  positive shape and image of His ultimate, loving sacrifice for our redemption.This should remind us that it is in precisely the most negative moments that we can find God at our side helping us, should we trust and love Him enough. Lastly, as the above title notes, Christ is truly a great math teacher, able to convert the esoteric and perhaps confusing concepts of math into real life applications of love and God’s power. However, as perfect a math teacher as Our Lord is, there is one place where He is much better at subtracting than adding, and that is in the confessional, where He  waits to subtract our sins and, out of Divine Mercy and love, to stop adding them up.

2015  Gabriel Garnica

Last Super Bowl Play is a Primer in Faith and Salvation; The Response to It is the Anti-Divine Mercy


We have all seen it, and anyone who knows anything about football knows it was probably the most bone-headed play ever called in a Super Bowl. Needing only one yard to repeat as champions, Pete Carroll, the head coach of the Seattle Seahawks, decided to call a slant pass with the explosive Marshawn Lynch standing in the backfield ready to ram the ball into the end zone.  Had the inexplicably risky play worked, people would have called Carroll as gutsy as ever but, even if it had, throwing the ball in those circumstances makes no sense at all. In the end, many felt Carroll tried to get “too cute” in his strategy rather than merely do the safer, simpler, and much more practical thing by calling a running play with perhaps the most dangerous runner in football in important situations.

Given the above, many have asserted that Carroll, true to his nature, likes to shoot from the hip and display an almost reckless swagger that has come to characterize his team. Others cite an arrogance just beneath the surface of that swagger, displaying a subtle disdain for the conventional, as well as  a distaste for the expected.  This swagger worked when Carroll went for and got the tying touchdown just before the half when most would have settled for a field goal to cut the margin. It seemed destined for another inevitable fairy tale ending when Jermaine Kearse juggled, and caught a long pass while sitting on his behind to put the Seahawks within sight of victory with less than a minute remaining. However, as often happens, those who rely on improbable miracles built on reckless abandon run out of luck, and so this amazing catch was destined to become but a bitter precursor to the collapse that followed.

Our faith and salvation depend on our ability to simplify and apply God’s laws to our lives. It is only when we try to get too “cute” and pretend that we can improvise God’s recipe for success and salvation that we get into trouble.  Rather than develop a lunch pail, workman-like approach to bringing glory to God and serving others, we often go for the big play,  the sexy display of sheer nobility or holiness.  I bet that many of us, given the chance to gain world-wide fame for helping one person or total anonymity for helping a thousand people, would opt for the former rather than the latter.

If bringing glory to God and serving others in His Name is too complicated for us, it is only because we make it so by pretending that God’s ways are somehow too dry and dull for our taste.  We dare to fancy ourselves so much more multi-dimensional than God calls us to be, adept at serving others and praising God while reading our own press clippings. In the end, I will take controlled excellence over reckless spectacles every day.

As for the reaction to this foolish play, there we have the complete opposite of the kind of mercy which Christ calls us to exhibit. This biggest of blunders in clearly the biggest of stages has resulted in the biggest of backlashes possible from fans too eager to pretend they know more about football than these coaches have forgotten.  Yes, it was a terrible mistake but, no, that does not mean that Carroll or any of his coaches should be forever bashed for the move.  Christ calls on us to forgive the biggest falls from precisely the biggest stages more easily than the smallest missteps from the most unimportant situations. I think that it is safe to say that Carroll, quarterback Russell Wilson, and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell will have to live with this painful memory for a long time, so bashing them now is just too easy and clearly vicious.

So there you  have it.  Simplify and execute God’s simple plan for your salvation; do not try to get fancy with the basic formula God has provided us. Secondly, be ready to forgive the biggest blunders and harms in the biggest situations, for our eternal judgment will be the scene of far bigger blunders in a far more important game for each of us, and we will need all the compassion, consideration, and mercy we can get.

2015  Gabriel Garnica

The Ultimate Lemonade


 

                                        

 

We have all heard the expression “making lemonade out of lemons” as an illustration of positive thinking.  Certainly, we need such thinking in this world given the overwhelming assaults from all sides on our psyche, emotions, and, in full order, our faith.  The devil is a cunning, shrewd, and highly intelligent foe, and one of his most powerful weapons is negativity.  We play into his hands when we despair, lose hope, surrender, or simply decide that there is no hope for us.  In such a state, we are more likely to fall into a self-fulfilling paradox of sorts whereby we will simply sin because, on some subconscious level, we wonder what difference it will make if we add a few grains of sand to our desert of sinfulness.

While there are many things to discuss with regard to the role of positive thinking in faith, let us confine ourselves here to one simple point, which is that Christ’s Divine Mercy and God’s love for us provide us with the ultimate lemonade in a sea of lemons.  This reality presents us with three different perspectives which each give us new insight into the power of Divine Mercy and the need of us to embrace that Mercy.

First, we cannot deny that, without such Divine Mercy, we would already be doomed and lost and then, yes, what difference would it make if we sinned yet again for, in truth, we would already be damned by now. Second, that very Divine Mercy is precisely what makes getting up and trying again so wonderful, and so constructive. If, no matter how badly we have strayed, we know that we will start fresh if we are sorry, confess our sins, and try again, then there is always hope, always the chance to save ourselves and, consequently, always a reason to limit or flee from further sin.

The third and most important aspect of all of this, however, is the actual value of our own sinfulness and weakness.  Many of us might be tempted to wish that we would never sin, fall, or drop the ball with regard to our relationship with God. Certainly, many of us may reason, such a state would make our lives and our job of saving our souls so much easier, and perhaps that is true on some level.  However, I suggest that you consider which student appreciates passing a major exam more:  the one who passes it easily with flying colors the first time or, in the contrary, the one who has repeatedly failed that test and finally gets over the top.  Certainly, we know that those who have struggled usually appreciate victory more than those to whom victory comes as easily as breathing.

On an even deeper level, our falls enable our rising; our fumbles enable our recovery; and our sin enables The Almighty to show us His Divine Mercy and forgiveness.  Many folks spend most of their time trying not to sin when, in fact, they should be spending most of that time loving The Almighty with such relentless audacity that sin is trampled as merely a very temporary obstacle on the way to loving God forever in paradise. This is not to minimize the power or danger of sin but, rather, to maximize the power and importance of Divine Mercy.  At the end of the day, we have to love God so much that no sin has the power to make us surrender our drive to love Him forever. We need to stop trying to be perfect and start accepting and embracing our imperfection, asking for forgiveness for that imperfection which offends God, and then continually and relentlessly go about the business of saving our souls and that of others as well.

We must realize that, for all of its destructive power, sin is what enables us to truly appreciate God’s Mercy and Christ’s ultimate sacrifice.  One cannot truly see the light until one has dwelt in the darkness. The irony here is that we cannot fully defeat sin until we embrace it as the contrast that enables us to seek sanctity. Some of our greatest saints were also some of our greatest sinners.  Peter denied Christ three times before he became the rock.  St. Francis was apparently no stranger to great sin before he rose to spiritual greatness.  Christ came to heal the sick, and we cannot experience His healing power until we admit and accept that we are as sick as it gets and move on. So the next time you slip up, as we all do all too often, love your God with such relentless zeal and determination that your fall will be but a very minor and temporary obstruction on your path to eternal salvation for, if that love is true, it will be much easier to admit your sin, ask for forgiveness from it, and move on.

2014, Gabriel Garnica

Do Not Play Prevent Defense with The Devil !


As things are getting interesting in pro football, fans like myself start remembering why we love the game. There is so much strategy, constant action, and consistent excitement in football that, in my opinion, it is a usually a much more interesting viewing experience than say, baseball.  That being said, there is much to learn about life in football-overcoming obstacles, crafting strategies to advance personally and professionally, dealing with and overcoming fumbles and interceptions of our plans, and knowing when to punt, to name just a few.

One of the most fascinating topics in football is the so-called prevent defense, which is basically when a defending team basically pulls back and allows shorter advances in order to prevent huge gains by the opponent, eating up clock time and basically strangling the time remaining for the opponent to catch up.  The legendary football coach and commentator John Madden once said that the only thing the prevent defense prevents is winning, and there is considerable support for this criticism of the ideology behind allowing your opponent to gain on you in a controlled environment and basically hoping that your foe will run out of time to beat  you.

The opposite view of prevent defense, the alternative approach, of course, would be to stay aggressive, keep doing what you have been doing to gain the lead in the first place, and not play “not to lose”. It really comes down to how much you trust in your team’s ability to stifle the opponent while remaining aggressive and playing to win. Yes, you can give up a big play that leads to quick points with a badly timed slip but,  you might also bash your opponent further and romp to victory.

Make no mistake about it, the devil is as shrewd a customer as they come, and he is also very patient and cunning.  He wants us to believe that, regardless of any advantage we may have at any time with God on our side, we might suddenly give up a big play and end up losing our souls and, of course, that is always a possibility. Furthermore, the devil will entice us to play prevent defense, giving him more and more ground in our lives, minds, hearts, and souls under the pretext and illusion that we are somehow preventing much greater and stunning loss if we do not “play it safe”.  We can surely see how this society has slowly allowed and even promoted the erosion of moral responsibility, strict behavior codes, and heightened ethical awareness.  The list of “not so bad” or “comparatively ok” behaviors grows by the day.  Anyone with strict moral codes is declared to be an extremist, fanatical, hateful, judgmental, old-fashioned, dangerous, and even a terrorist.  Simply stated, our society is clamoring for us to play prevent defense with the devil, encouraging us to give ground as we diminish the eternal implications of what we do, feel, believe, and aspire to.  The load of rationalizations, exceptions, loopholes, and twisted notions of mercy grows by the hour.  Before we know it, the devil will be a yard away from putting  us in eternal damnation and we will have never seen it coming until it is too late.

The trick, then, is to stay aggressive with our moral compass, and to maintain our personal moral standards regardless of societal opinions, protests, rationalizations, or mockery.  Yes, we will fumble and be intercepted from time to time because we are weak humans.  True, we might even be thrown for a loss when things do not go as planned.  Definitely, there will come times when we will question our game plan, our chances of success, and even God’s coaching style.  Ultimately, however, we must love and trust God enough to lay it all on the line, to throw our fears and hesitations to the wind, and to go for it with all of our hearts, minds, and souls. The “it” I am referring to is serving and glorifying God by placing the talents He has given us in the loving service of others.

You see, when we play prevent defense with the devil, we are surrendering huge chunks of life real estate to him in a pathetic attempt to barter our salvation under the delusion, and illusion, that he will be appeased with just that, and not try to snatch our eternal souls in the process.  Remember that the devil is the best liar that has ever existed, and that, while he is patient and cunning, he has a relentless desire to seize our souls for all eternity.  Appeasing the devil is a deadly game, and the language of those who have placed more trust in him than in God.

Therefore, put your faith with your attitude is, and trust that God has your back if you will only play believing that He does and stick to His game plan for your salvation.  Regardless of how often you fall, and you will, believe and trust in God enough to keep being aggressive and not play scared. Never surrender any part of your life, or any weakness you may have, to the devil, accepting the notion that you cannot beat him there.  Likewise, do not fall into the slippery slope of accepting seemingly smaller sins as ransom for preventing larger sins for, as is so often the case, small sins only lead to great sins.  Remember that, whether we realize it or not, we as a society and as individuals only measure evil by how far we fall from our current state. In other words, the petty thief will consider grand theft a lesser sin, if a sin at all, than the man who has never stolen anything in his life. Stay vigilant and keep your moral standards high.  Immediately and defiantly get up after  you fall, even when it seems more hypocritical than sincere to do so.

So, I beg of you; do not play prevent defense with the devil, trusting more in his power to influence your life than in God’s ability to lovingly save it. Instead, fight the devil with all of your strength, amend our life as best you can, and trust in God’s Divine Mercy to back you up.  Never surrender an inch of your life to this lying fiend without a fight, regardless of how hopeless at times it may seem to stop his onslaught.  Most of all, accept that we are all weak sinners more likely to fall than to remain upright, and vow to spend your energy fighting through that weakness rather than using it as an excuse to weaken and surrender more.

To extend John Madden’s famous line, the only thing that moral prevent defense prevents is your salvation.

Gabriel Garnica, 2014

Judas, Peter, and Divine Mercy


                   

 

With Lent just past, and the mix of pain and joy which that time serves us, I am reminded of a discussion I have had numerous times with various friends and relatives. Namely, who was guilty of the greater sin,  Judas, or Peter?   Scholars seem to fall on both sides of this debate, with those targeting Judas seeing the ultimate result as their central focus, while those targeting Peter as guilty of the greater sin seemingly focusing on a number of points.  Those who argue that Judas was the guiltier party seem to focus on the fact that, one way or the other, the betrayal of Judas had the more direct impact on Christ’s capture and murder. After all, one can argue, Peter betrayed Jesus after Jesus had been arrested and, clearly, whether or  not Peter denied Christ was not going to have any impact on the fate Jesus had before Him.  The enemies of Christ did not push for His death because Peter denied  him but, rather, regardless of that fact.  Had Peter jumped on a chair and proudly announced that he was, in fact, a follower of Christ and, in fact, the leader of those followers, Jesus would not have been released with a wink and a smirk of “Sorry about that!”.

If the actions of Peter, then, had nothing to do with Christ’s fate that day then, we might ask, did the actions of Judas have much more to do with that result? Surely, it would seem so, at least on the basis that Judas made it much easier for the enemies of Jesus to get their hands on him.  Without Judas, it would likely have been much tougher for these enemies to grab Jesus without causing a riot but, one might consider, it is likely that, sooner or later, one way or the other, they would have ultimately gotten their target, albeit with much more difficulty and far less convenience.  Thus, we can say, Peter’s actions had nothing to do with Christ’s fate and the actions of Judas certainly facilitated and accelerated a fate which would have likely happened sooner or later, given the power and influence of His enemies.  Let us hit Judas with 2 guilt points given that his acts had a more direct impact on the fate of Our Lord.   Guilt Score……Peter 0    Judas 2

As to the motives of the two men, Peter sold out Christ for safety and out of cowardice, while Judas sold Him out out of a mix of greed and confusion, so let’s call that a draw and post the guilt score at  Peter 1   Judas  3.

As to the quantity of the betrayals,  Peter betrayed Christ 3 times and Judas once, so let’s throw those amounts into the mix and call the score   Peter  4   Judas  4.

Both men were followers of Christ who had known him for a long time and  seen His great Holiness and love of others, so let’s call the length of their relationship with Christ a draw and have the score at Peter 5  Judas 5.

As to the centrality and stature of each man among the apostles, there is little doubt that Peter was the leader of the group and, therefore, his actions would have a much  more devastating example and impact on the integrity of the group, given his leadership and example role.   Peter 6   Judas 5.

Now, let us add the fact that Jesus had already placed Peter in a special position and called him the Rock upon which Our Lord would build the Church, so we can argue that, in betraying Christ, Peter was falling much farther from grace than Judas ever did.   Peter 7  Judas 5.

Scripture tells us that both men bitterly regretted what they had done, so let’s call that a draw also.  Peter 8  Judas 6.

Despicable as the actions of Judas were, they were necessary for the plan of Salvation to unfold.  Despite the fact that Scripture notes that it would have been better if Judas had never been born, the fact remains that, detestable as his actions were, they served a purpose in God’s salvation plan.  Despite the fact that, even if Judas had not betrayed Jesus, He would likely have been murdered sooner of later by His foes, the fact remains that Judas served a predestined role in these events.  In brief,  Judas was serving himself and, likewise, God’s ultimate plan.  By contrast, Peter was only serving himself, as his actions had no indirect or external purpose in God’s plan, but only served Peter.   Peter 9  Judas  6.

So, we see, Peter was considerably more guilty than Judas in terms of selling out Christ.  In fact, some would argue that, while betraying someone is despicable in that one is abusing trust, at least the betrayer admits to having established the trust he is abusing.  In other words, the betrayer is  not denying his relationship to the betrayed. Rather, he is abusing that relationship after implying that such a relationship existed on some level.  One might even argue that, in order to be more effective, betrayal needs a closer relationship to work.  Thus, how rarely does one hear of someone betraying a stranger?  No, it seems the very essence of betrayal that one needs to admit to having a close relationship in order to carry out such betrayal in the first place.  Simply put, Judas may have stabbed Jesus in the back but, in order to do so, he had to admit that he had Christ’s back at some point and was close, at some point.

What of Peter?  In denying Christ three times, Peter basically rejected the idea that he even knew Jesus.  What would hurt you more; if someone you knew stabbed you in the back or, conversely, if someone you held as a special leader denied even knowing you in the first place, as if knowing and being associated with you was a curse?  Let’s give Peter 2 guilt points on that one and Judas 1, so that our new score is  Peter 11  Judas 7.

In the near final analysis, by the standards of this world then,  Peter was more guilty than Judas in his actions.  However, this is where Divine Mercy comes in.  Our Lord told Sister Faustina that, the greater the sinner and the sin, the greater the possibility of Divine Mercy in the face of sincere contrition, audacious love, and trusting abandonment to God’s Divine Mercy.  Despite being much more wrong than Judas, Peter drowned his pride and self-interest in a sea of total love and trust, as well as a relentless desire to not be separated  from Our Lord, which happen to be the necessary ingredients for Divine Mercy as outlined by Our Lord to Sister Faustina.

While the numbers used here are only meant for illustrative purposes and, obviously, are in no way meant to be concrete or precise measures of relative guilt, the fact that Divine Mercy wipes out these subjective measures is what matters here.  Ultimately, Peter’s greater sin was wiped out by his infinitely greater love of Christ and total trust and abandonment to Our Lord’s Divine Mercy.  By contrast, Judas remained mired in self, in pride and, worse still, wandered into blasphemy, which many scholars define as thinking that one knows better than God.  On that last point, Judas very clearly thought that he had a clearer grasp of his guilt and opportunity for reconciliation than God did, which led to  his total despair and ultimate surrender to sin with further, conclusive, sin.

With apologies for one more play on subjective measures of guilt:   Peter 11  –  11  Divine Mercy  =   0  as opposed to    Judas = 7 with waiver of that Mercy = 7

At the end of the day, Divine Mercy is about not letting yourself be defined by your sinfulness but, rather, by your total love and trust in God.

Copyright, 2014,   Gabriel Garnica.    All rights reserved.

 

The Parable of The Vineyard Workers: Divine Mercy in Action


One of my favorite Scripture stories is the Parable of The Vineyard Workers ( Matthew 20:1-16) wherein a landowner pays the exact same pay to workers who work different amounts of the day, much to the subsequent anger of the original workers who worked an entire day for, as it turns out, the same pay as those who had only worked a few hours.  We can all relate to those workers who worked the full day.  Not fair!  Are you kidding me?  This is an outrage!  Imagine how you would feel if a co-worker who worked three hours was given the same pay as you were given for eight hours of work.

By human and earthly standards, this landowner is either crazy, sinister, drunk, viciously malicious or, at the very least, stupid. After all, why would any boss want to create a riot by being so blatantly unfair?  Truth be told, however, a simple and careful reading of the parable will demonstrate that the landowner was not, in fact, deceiving or playing with anyone.  He gave every single worker what he promised to give him. The landowner paid the full day workers exactly what he said he would pay them, and he paid the other workers what he felt was right.

Our human perception of unfairness in this story comes, not from the interaction between the landowner and the workers but, actually, from the comparison between the pay given the workers in relation to what they worked.  Steeped in our flimsy human arrogance and presumption, we assume that the pay here is proportional to the work because that is our earthly measure.  We arrogantly presume that this landowner must adhere to our perceptions of fairness and justice because, after all, aren’t those very same perceptions simply brimming with our wisdom and common sense?

Our arrogance allows, even demands, that we measure the landowner’s actions by our measures of justice, with no regard to the fact that, at the end of the day, as the landowner reminds all of the workers, it is his money to do as we wishes.

Enter Christ’s Divine Mercy as brought to us directly through St. Faustina and indirectly through the writings of other saints.  Try as we might, we simply cannot put our brain around the fact that, like that landowner, Almighty God is so generous as to offer us salvation, via an incredibly generous supply of mercy, regardless of how little we have paid our share of service and loyalty to His promises, if only we will do our best once afforded the chance and with what opportunities are presented to us.

We would be fools to presume that we come anywhere near deserving the generous payment of eternal salvation offered us by our Eternal Landowner, yet we are just as likely, and foolish, to both disbelieve the reliability of that Divine Generosity as well as dare to compare ourselves to others in its attainment.

When you come right down to it, most, if not all, of sin is about worrying more about ourselves and our relation to others than keeping our souls and being focused on God and the beautiful eternity He lovingly, generously, and mercifully offers us.

The next time you feel that God has been unfair, unjust, or ignored you, look to the great saints who lived to love and serve others, lived the idea that the last shall be first, and were too humbly content, and grateful, to be working in God’s vineyard to be worrying about who was getting how much mercy and reward for doing what.  Love and serve God by loving and serving others, put others ahead of yourself, and  faithfully believe that God will do right by you, and you will be cashing the greatest paycheck of all when all is said and done.

Copyright, 2013,  Gabriel Garnica  All rights reserved.