Cleansing Fire

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An End-Times Issue?

November 22nd, 2016, Promulgated by Diane Harris

For Thanksgiving, I want to share how studying Sacred Scripture is a matter of great joy and gratitude in my life.  It is all due, of course, to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, Who seems never to tire of teaching more and more to those with a hunger for the WORD, Who gives increasing delight to the student of scripture in receiving insights and understanding from others on the same path. That is not a claim to any personal achievement at all; every bit of new understanding is because the Holy Spirit chooses to clarify something at some point in time, perhaps even for some unknown reason or timing. I think our gratitude must be shown by sharing, and by receiving openly without resistance; i.e. by being malleable under His Wings.  Authentic understanding, even if “new” to the person reading, is profitable for our learning and will never contradict biblical revelation, or the teachings of the Church. Therefore, if we know those teachings, it is not necessary to trouble ourselves about any contradictory writing of humans.

When some unexpected insight or understanding persists for a period of time, or grows into other applications, perhaps it is an encouragement to share what otherwise might only be a personal note in a prayer journal.  Such occurred last summer, while I was facilitating a Scripture Study session among neighbors (none of whom is Catholic.)  I say ‘facilitating’, not ‘teaching’, remembering St. James’ caution in his epistle: “Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, for you know that we who teach shall be judged with greater strictness.” James 3:1.  So I am happy with the word “facilitating,” or “sharing,” or even “studying.” It was our third summer of meeting.  Having completed Matthew in 2014, and Mark in 2015, we tackled Luke.

End Times?

In our prior studies we’d found a number of verses which seem to refer to the fall of Jerusalem, or to end times, or both. We especially noted Christ’s teaching His Apostles the signs of the end times, particularly in Mark Chapter 13.  While we don’t know when this will happen, since only the Father knows the time, Jesus nevertheless did give us signs of the end times, and told us in verse 37 to “Watch.”  It’s hard to imagine He doesn’t want us to do so.  Christ also offers a key point in verse 31: “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.”  We keep watch for the signs of the end times, but we also keep watch over ourselves in preparing for our own ‘end-times.’

A challenging verse regarding the end times is found in Luke 18:8:  “…when the Son of man comes, will He find faith on earth?”  One might figure that Christ wouldn’t have mentioned those words if He expected faith to be thriving when He returns.  That thought fits with Pope Benedict’s remarking, e.g., that the Church is likely to get smaller, what some have even called a remnant church because the tyranny and anarchy of secularism will have seduced many away.  One can see the effects in the world today, a kind of ‘self-selecting’ oneself into wheat or weed, into sheep or goat, as a personal choice prior to Christ’s Judgment. (There are many other end time prophecies and speculations in the Bible, but it is not necessary to include all of them here in order to make the following point.)

Noticing Something ‘New’

In last summer’s bible study there was something I’d never noticed before.  (It is one of the miracles of studying scripture how a verse can be read 10x and not noticed until the 11th reading.  When the soul is ready or ‘stirred up’ the Holy Spirit seems to ‘in-joy’ giving.)  The point that drew  our attention in that particular study was the juxtaposition of two verses in Luke 16, seemingly unrelated, and even in some translations they are separately paragraphed.  The first verse obviously supports Mark 13:31, mentioned above:

“But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away, than for one dot of the law to become void.”  Luke 16: 17.

Simply put, no matter what else happens, God’s Word and Law are not going to pass away, are not going to change or be changed, by anyone on earth. But what verse did Christ give immediately after warning that the law cannot be made void? What prime example did He give of NOT making His Words invalid? Not a verse about repentance! Not one about charity to the poor! Not even one about worship! Rather, He gave in answer what is both the warning and “the hot-button” of today:

“Every one who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery.”  Luke 16: 18.

Of course, Christ knew where we would be challenged over the centuries, and also at this very moment. And He answered it for us, 2000 years ago.

But there is more.

In Luke 16, while verse 18 may at first seem disconnected from verse 17, is it really?  Is there not, in this very linkage, a particular warning sign that a prime threat to faith will be by demeaning the earthly marriage covenant?  Christ clearly labels the situation of true marriage, divorce and attempted “remarriage” as adultery. Have we not, then, been warned explicitly about a most dangerous, even catalyzing, factor in loss of faith, our faith, The Faith. Our obligation is to obey in faith and it seems that obedience is an essential aspect of the ‘faith’ that Jesus wonders if He will find on earth when He returns. Moreover, implicit in disobedience would be the risk that the Bride of Christ, the Church, would violate her own covenant with the Bridegroom if she taught heresy or omitted what Christ taught.  Does that not shed even further light on Luke 16: 17-18 if the Church or members of her hierarchy were to try to set aside Christ’s teaching?

This very issue in the Church today is  setting various levels of the hierarchy on different paths of contention. Not since the Arian heresy has the Church been so rocked internally.  But we need not be rocked internally ourselves. There are big questions for the laity.  What role we are expected to take when parts of the hierarchy apparently aren’t able to pursue clarification in truth? How do we communicate when the righteous exercise of canonical rights is met without courtesy and resolution for the good of souls? What do we do when turmoil ensues, and many are afraid to enter the arena?  At first I thought we’d all need to become moral theologians to untangle the knots; rather, I think we must simply remember that NO ONE, not even a Pope, can give permission to change Christ’s teaching by making sin into ‘no-sin.’ Any Pope, and the entire hierarchy, has the obligation to defend the doctrine, and an obligation not to change it.  From that point of view, there are no footnotes to argue over, no Chapter 8 wording to debate, no mis-translations to allege.  Holy Scripture is already clear.  Clarity is a sign of the Holy Spirit; ambiguity isn’t. Actually, deliberate ambiguity may be a sign of an intrusive spirit, opposing the Will of God.

Courage also comes from the Holy Spirit

So, too, if we need more encouragement, St. Paul is clear in Galatians 1:8-12: “But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if any one is preaching to you a gospel contrary to that which you received, let him be accursed. Am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still pleasing men, I should not be a servant of Christ. For I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not man’s gospel. For I did not receive it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through a revelation of Jesus Christ.”

Scripture is also clear that someone in serious sin who receives the Eucharist is bringing judgment upon himself: “Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself.”  St. Paul, 1 Corinthians 11: 27-29.  It is not inconceivable, for the sake of honoring Christ’s Teaching, that laity who are Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion would be forced to remove themselves from serving in that role, at least as a matter of conscience.

It has not been a complicated matter for 2000 years; it is still not a complicated matter.  Difficult for some, perhaps, but not complicated.

So, as I was pondering what was happening in responses to the post-Synod writings, the juxtaposition of these two seemingly unrelated verses “jumped out at me,” looking for understanding and obedience. All I mean to do here is invite others to think about whether or not these two verses in Luke constitute a warning about where the threat to Faith will arise, and so be called to be especially on guard, and of course to pray.  Really, it is not that complicated.  And, in this simplicity, we also will find out which churchmen will follow Christ and which won’t.  That knowledge is important for a soul. Knowing the truth is always a blessing.

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8 Responses to “An End-Times Issue?”

  1. avatar Dominick Anthony Zarcone says:

    https://gloria.tv/article/VFEa4UWriYoS1yhZk9ttm3CF4

    Pope Francis must not remain silent regarding whether Married Catholics can divorce and remarry without an annulment and still receive Holy Communion.

    The Pope must reply to the Cardinals!

    “May the words of that great Doctor of the Church, St Thomas Aquinas, illuminate and comfort us all: “When there is a danger for the faith, subjects are required to reprove their prelates, even publicly. Since Paul, who was subject to Peter, out of the danger of scandal, publicly reproved him. And Augustine comments: “Peter himself gave an example to superiors by not disdaining to be corrected by his subjects when it occurred to them that he had departed from the right path” (Summa theol., II-II, 33, 4c).

  2. avatar Dominick Anthony Zarcone says:

    “The following words inspired by the Holy Spirit retain their prophetic value especially in view of the spreading doctrinal and practical confusion regarding the Sacrament of Marriage in our days: “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry” (2 Tim. 4: 3-5).” Bishop Athanasius Schneider

    Saint Hilary of Poitiers: “We don’t make peace at the expense of the truth by making concessions in order to acquire the reputation of tolerance. We make peace by fighting legitimately according to the rules of the Holy Spirit. There is a danger to ally surreptitiously with unbelief under the beautiful name of peace.” (Hil. Ad Const., 2, 6, 2).

    Saint Hilary of Poitiers: “May I always be in exile, if only the truth begins to be preached again!” (De Syn., 78).

  3. avatar raymondfrice says:

    “Of course, Christ knew where we would be challenged over the centuries, and also at this very moment. And He answered it for us, 2000 years ago.”

    Did the Christ know at that time that He was God and could see outside of His time and see into our future???

  4. avatar Diane Harris says:

    @Ramondfrice:

    Quick answer to your question: “Yes. Absolutely.” Longer answer: If Christ did not know He was God, then His acceptance of Thomas’ adoration would have been a sin. Thomas said: “My Lord and my God!” on touching Christ’s wounds.

    Could Christ “see outside of His time and see into our future?” you ask. Again, same short answer: “Yes.” Witness His words about the woman who anointed Him: (Matt 26:13 and Mark 14:9) “Truly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.” So far … 2000 years and counting.

    There are certainly more examples, but it is not necessary to say more.

  5. avatar raymondfrice says:

    thank you Diane.

  6. avatar Dominick Anthony Zarcone says:

    Carl E. Olson has done all of us a significant service by writing THE FOUR CARDINALS And THE ENCYCLICAL IN THE ROOM. After rereading Pope Saint John Paul II’s VERITATIS SPLENDOR, Olson asks outstanding questions since the four Cardinals submitted to Pope Francis their 5 dubia.

    This well read editor/author and convert to the Catholic Church aptly asserts and asks:
    “The bottom line, for me, is this: if the ambiguities and problems with chapter 8 of Amoris Laetitia can be clarified in accord with Veritatis Splendor, what really was the point of the past three years? Why wasn’t the Apostolic Exhortation more clear and precise from the start? Was it a failure of competence? Or something else?”

    If you haven’t had an opportunity to read his most recent The Catholic World Report publication, read it now here: http://www.catholicworldreport.com/Item/5237/the_four_cardinals_and_the_encyclical_in_the_room.aspx

    …..and then pray without ceasing….

  7. avatar militia says:

    The freebie “The Catholic Thing” is short and meaningful. Check out today’s description of how Pope Francis can be seen as implying dissent from the Law! https://www.thecatholicthing.org/2016/12/01/is-the-gospel-opposed-to-the-law/

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