Feel like turning over the tables in the temple? Read this first

John Martens at America’s blog “The Good Word” has a few good words for those who consider themselves the next John the Baptist — or even the next Jesus:

John the Baptist was a prophet and Jesus is considered by Christians to be both God and man, the Messiah, Lord, who will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead. The next time you feel like shouting at someone, or judging them, or using blunt criticism or calling them names, you need to take a breath, count to five and ask yourself, “Am I the son of man,the Messiah?” If you answer “no,” you might want to rethink your strategy and try speaking the truth in kindness and gentleness. You might want to keep in mind a particular word: presumption. Do not presume to speak like a prophet if you do not have the calling of a prophet.

This is not, by the way, an argument against speaking the truth, in season or out of season, but it is an argument against using the language and behavior of Jesus as an excuse to satisfy your desire to bully, hurt, and manipulate others with your words. How do I know? Because I have always had a sharp tongue and a way with words and I was constantly looking for excuses to justify my speech when I hurt people. Usually, though, rough speech is intended to satisfy the speaker emotionally and not help the one they hurt. So, when we want to use this sort of speech and justify ourselves for using it by pointing to Jesus, we need to keep one word in mind: presumption. You are not the Messiah and you do not know the true heart and mind of the one to whom you are speaking. Jesus’ speech and John the Baptist’s speech was divinely ordained speech, contained in revelatory documents. Is your speech divinely ordained? Do not presume to know how proper your cutting words are if you do not know the person to whom you are speaking as the Messiah does: completely and perfectly.

It is an act of presumption to speak in the manner of Jesus and John the Baptist, with blunt criticism and hyperbole, speaking of  hypocrites and whitewashed tombs, and broods of vipers, with righteous indignation, when you do not have the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Then you just seem to people like a scold and a judgmental bully. Do not be surprised that if you act with this kind of presumption, people will not have a lot of time for you when you stumble and fall, except to accuse you of being a whitewashed tomb, a hypocrite, and a member in good standing of a brood of vipers.

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4 responses to “Feel like turning over the tables in the temple? Read this first”

  1. A wise old pastor once told me, as I was finishing diaconal formation, “It is the job of the preacher to comfort the afflicted, and to afflict the comfortable.” Those of us ordained to preach must prayerfully distinguish between the rash judgment emanating the Evil One, and the Spirit’s Gift of Right Judgment. And we should not misapply the tired old mantra, “let’s not be judgmental,” to excuse the duty to preach and teach with the sword of truth in a spirit of love.

  2. I too have a sharp tongue, I’m sorry to say. This came at a good time. I plan on going to confession this evening. Thanks.

  3. John Martens v. Michael Voris . . .

    When I watched that latest installment from RealCatholic, I first thought that Voris was comparing himself with Martin Luther, but evidently he sees himself as more akin to the saints of the Counter-Reformation. That would leave Martens and his cohorts at America playing the role of Luther, and I believe Voris would probably agree. The analogy might carry more weight if the 75% of Catholics who currently avoid Sunday mass were taking their cues from the Jesuits–or from anyone inside the Catholic Church, for that matter–but it’s just not so. Stamping out the so-called heresies that Voris brands Modernism might please some of the table-turning crowd who do come to mass–if only to cluck their heads–but it would almost certainly make the Church seem even more remote and forbidding to those who only show up on Christmas and Easter.

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