Remember when Easter sermons used to demand discipline of us? Yeah, me neither.
Pope Francis has encouraged preachers of the Church to be merciful above all as if there wasn’t anything more to Christianity.
Many say he’s taken it overboard. Where is the clarity and discipline of a Benedict XVI and John Paul II? Will the Catholic Church go the way of mainline Protestantism as so many professional prognosticators are prophetically predicting?
When I read sermons like the one below from a liberal theologian I throw my hands up in the air.
What’s the point of Lent anyway?
Where is the fiery preaching of old time preachers like St. John Chrysostom? The way to hell, it is well known, is paved with good intentions and extravagant mercy–like so:
If any man be devout and love God, let him enjoy this fair and radiant triumphal feast. If any man be a wise servant, let him rejoicing enter into the joy of his Lord. If any have labored long in fasting, let him now receive his recompense. If any have wrought from the first hour, let him today receive his just reward. If any have come at the third hour, let him with thankfulness keep the feast. If any have arrived at the sixth hour, let him have no misgivings; because he shall in nowise be deprived thereof. If any have delayed until the ninth hour, let him draw near, fearing nothing. If any have tarried even until the eleventh hour, let him, also, be not alarmed at his tardiness; for the Lord, who is jealous of his honor, will accept the last even as the first; he gives rest unto him who comes at the eleventh hour, even as unto him who has wrought from the first hour.
It’s not hard to understand the prodigal’s brother when you hear such pointless permissiveness. Where would the Church go if everyone thought and taught like this?
Well, for one, it would return to the glory days of St. John Chrysostom. This passage actually from a Paschal sermon attributed to him. What’s more, it is read at Matins in Orthodox churches on Resurrection Sunday.
I reference it because Eastern and Western Easter coincides this year.
One more little taste of Chrysostom’s merciful image of God:
And he shows mercy upon the last, and cares for the first; and to the one he gives, and upon the other he bestows gifts. And he both accepts the deeds, and welcomes the intention, and honors the acts and praises the offering. Wherefore, enter you all into the joy of your Lord; and receive your reward, both the first, and likewise the second. You rich and poor together, hold high festival. You sober and you heedless, honor the day. Rejoice today, both you who have fasted and you who have disregarded the fast. The table is full-laden; feast ye all sumptuously. The calf is fatted; let no one go hungry away.
Enjoy ye all the feast of faith: Receive ye all the riches of loving-kindness. let no one bewail his poverty, for the universal kingdom has been revealed. Let no one weep for his iniquities, for pardon has shown forth from the grave. Let no one fear death, for the Savior’s death has set us free. He that was held prisoner of it has annihilated it. By descending into Hell, He made Hell captive. He embittered it when it tasted of His flesh.
Let it be known that Orthodox in the pews and the monks of Athos would totally lose it over this sermon if, in alternative reality, everyone Eastern Orthodox didn’t know this text, and it was presented as written by modern Western theologian.
Familiarity breeds blindness.
Don’t forget to read Pope Francis: Ask God to Shatter Your Heart.
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