St Patrick’s Parade

When we read the gospels we don’t hear him preaching much against sin. In fact, the only people he speaks harshly to are the self righteous, religious people. Nevertheless, he accepts them as he accepts all the other sinners. Remember he didn’t dine only with the tax collectors and whores. He also dined with those other terrible sinners–the respectable religious folk–the Pharisees and scribes.

To understand what Jesus would do I think we have to try again to understand who he IS. Sure Jesus preached and told stories and healed people. He was involved, but more important than his actions was his identity. He was among us as the Son of God, and I think his power, his love and goodness simply radiated from him in such a way that he didn’t need to condemn people of their sin. The light of his goodness simply revealed to them who they were and what they had done. That convicted them of their sin at the deepest level and prompted repentance.

Haven’t you had that experience? Maybe you were slagging somebody and gossiping about them to a person who is much holier than you are. They don’t join in, but they also don’t rebuke you. They are simply silent or maybe they gently change the subject. Didn’t their goodness cut you to the quick and make you aware of your mean ness? What about that time you were telling a filthy story or indulging in some mean act and that person who is better than you just walked away or said gently, “We don’t need to do that. We’re better than that…”

That’s what I think Jesus would do, and what he still does: He’d be there. He would not condemn anyone with angry, self righteous imprecations, but neither would he condone evil. Instead the radiance of his love and goodness would reveal their sin to some, and to others who are locked in the slavery of their sin his witness would be wasted. They would hate him for that radiance and goodness. They would hate him for having revealed to them their sin, and they would plot to kill him.

What we see in the gospels is that his Truth, Beauty and Goodness attracted all sorts of people to repentance. Both self righteous religious people and notorious sinners came to him because the legalistic labeling didn’t apply. He saw all people equally because he saw in all of them broken hearted children of Adam, lost sons and daughters of Eve looking for the way home. His Truth, Beauty and Goodness attracted all sorts, but it also repelled all sorts.

There were plenty in the crowd of “sinners” who rejected him and eventually killed him just as there were plenty in the crowd of “righteous religious” who rejected and killed him.

All that remains for us is to determine that, first of all we are in the set of sinners who are attracted to his light and accept it with penitent hearts and secondly to decide that we wish to be transformed into his image so that in some small way we too might radiate that same light, love, goodness, truth and beauty through our lives.

In this way we might just look on the whole world as he did: with pity not with blame and the Holy Spirit might radiate from us so that others might see that light which is set on a lamp stand for all to see.

The answer is sanctity: so that others might see Christ the Lord in us  because we have become temples of his glory–his lights in the world doing his work in the world.

That work was to seek and to save that which was lost, for God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved.

And what should Cardinal Dolan do? In my opinion he should support the parade and use the opportunity to make a terrific speech reminding everyone of the great contribution the Irish have made to New York,  explain exactly who St Patrick was, what he did and why we celebrate. Within this statement he should preach the gospel of Jesus Christ with love and include a few words affirming the church’s teaching on healthy sexuality.