Since faith is one, it must be professed in all its purity and integrity". Pope Francis/Pope Benedict
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Thursday, 5 January 2012

The Heresy of Niceness

What is the world's religion now? It has taken the brighter side of the Gospel,—its tidings of comfort, its precepts of love; all darker, deeper views of man's condition and prospects being comparatively forgotten. This is the religion natural to a civilized age, and well has Satan dressed and completed it into an idol of the Truth. As the reason is cultivated, the taste formed, the affections and sentiments refined, a general decency and grace will of course spread over the face of society, quite independently of the influence of Revelation. The Religion of the Day, Newman

The truth of man's condition is sin. We have forgotten this unpleasant fact and seek to shield ourselves from it by any means at our disposal. Some take refuge in the cult of niceness, as though, covering themselves in its illusory cloak, others will not see them for who they really are. Others see sin all around them and seek solace in the notion that, after all, their own sin is not really so serious. Everyone is doing it so it cannot be all that bad. Still others give themselves over so completely to the lie that, when truth is revealed, it has disastrous consequences for all that believed the facade. Each of these is a trap and a snare in its own way.

Jesus has two reactions to sin. When he sees it in the religious teachers and authorities of his day he denounces it vehemently. "Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites; because you are like to whited sepulchers, which outwardly appear to men beautiful, but within are full of dead men's bones, and of all filthiness." When these same people confront him with sinners his response is quite different. He uses the occasion to remind all of them of their own sinfulness. What is the difference between these two reactions? Perhaps it is what he sees before him. In the first case he sees whited sepulchers... people who are desperately clinging to their facade of social virtue, of good taste, of niceness. In the latter case he sees someone whose sin is laid bare. The facade is stripped away and the truth is there for all to see. Jesus sees the possibility of repentance there. If only the whited sepulchers were as fortunate as the woman at Jesus' feet. She at least has no illusions about who and what she is.

There is hope here for all of us, but it is only there in the dust at the feet of Jesus with the darkest reaches of our soul laid bare.

1 comment:

Barona said...

Excellent post. As long as we are "nice" - everything is - perhaps not acceptable - but just don't talk about the big "S" word : SIN.