The vicious, murderous Saul, was graced with a vocation by Jesus. But Lord, he said, they will hold my past against me! I am evil and bad. Don’t worry, Jesus replied, I shall be with you. And so it was, Saint Paul would boast of his weakness so as to give Jesus the glory.
If we go before our judgment and Satan would be allowed to accuse us for all we have done, each one of us, and if God would judge us only on those accusations, whether true or false, out of context or not, we would all be going straight to hell. The faith is about mercy, about the Good News, the Evangelium, the Gospel, not about an uncontrollable lust to condemn all to hell with no chance of redemption, with no chance of salvation if they are not already mirror images of ourselves. The faith is not about only bad news confirming only bad news. Playing the part of the Accuser, damning others with no chance of redemption and salvation, is a rejection of Christ who redeemed all and wants that the many be saved. Jesus said that those who deny him before men He will deny before His Heavenly Father.
It’s time, I think, to re-publish something I came across back in the early 1980s at Father Paul Marx’ Human Life Center in Collegeville, MN (which later became Human Life International in Front Royal, VA), then operated by the famous R.M. I put this up on this blog a few years ago, and have used many times in my life.
A gate-keeper psychologist for vocations to the priesthood for a nearby Archdiocese (he hated that description of himself), passed this bit of parody below around to everyone, poking fun at those in his profession who had no faith whatsoever (slightly edited).
It demonstrates that if one is looking for something to condemn, one can find ten thousand examples even in the greatest of saints. And any one of those things is today way more than enough to have one sent off for an “evaluation” at, say, the homosexualist crusaders at Saint Luke Institute, the results of which evaluation are predetermined by the one who is paying (not by what is actually known about the subject). Dismissals from the clerical state are multiplied. When you have a troublesome priest like the one described below, they are literally cast out of the priesthood. Truly. Pretty much everywhere.
I mean, just imagine, there are those even among the cardinals of the Church who condemn our Lord as a failure for having died on the Cross. They say this with a reluctant and sad voice of a forced admission. For them, even our Lord should have been sent away for evaluation and then dismissed. Isn’t it true that those who only condemn have to look for more to condemn, even if it is not there? The following is a call for an examination of conscience for us all:
To: Paul of Tarsus, Independent Missionary, Corinth, Greece
From: CYA Missionary Board
Dear Mr. Paul:
We recently received an application from you for service under our Board.
It is our policy to be as frank and open-minded as possible with all our applicants. We now have an exhaustive study of your case. To be plain, we are surprised that you have been able to pass as a bona fide missionary.
We are told that you are afflicted with severe eye trouble. This is certain to be an insuperable handicap to an effective ministry. Our Board requires 20/20 vision.
Is it true that you have a jail record? Certain brethren report that you did two years’ time at Caesarea, and were imprisoned at Rome too. You made so much trouble for the businessmen at Ephesus that they refer to you as “the man who turned the world upside down.” Sensationalism has no place in the missions. We also deplore your lurid “over the wall in a basket” episode at Damascus.
We are appalled at the obvious lack of conciliatory behavior. Diplomatic men are not stoned and dragged out of the city gate, or assaulted by furious mobs. Have you ever considered that gentler words might gain you friends? Why, we even read in one place where all men turned against you, those of like faith too. I am enclosing for your edification a copy of Dallas Carnegus’ book entitled, How to Win Jews and InfluenceGreeks.
Your ministry has been far too flighty to be successful. First Asia Minor, then Macedonia, then Greece, then Italy, and now you are talking of a wild goose chase into Spain. Have you not suspected that a nice cozy spot in some permanent location might do more good? Concentration is more important than dissipation of one’s powers. You cannot win the whole world by yourself. You are just one little Paul!
In a recent sermon you said, “God forbid that I should glory in anything save the cross of Christ. ” It seems to us that you ought also to give some glory to our heritage, our denominational program, the unified budget, and the World Federation of Churches. And by all means don’t forget the League of Consensus and the Society of Niceness.
It’s amusing to us how you say you do the work of an evangelist when there are just a few of you romping around the countryside. Our method is to spend months in promoting evangelistic campaigns. With a full house, there’s bound to be some action: your methods are too uncertain.
And who do you think you are in telling our church leaders that you long to impart some spiritual blessing to them! Are they not educated enough to have their own blessing? Frankly, Mr. Paul, it’s a trifle too humbling to have plain ordinary men like yourself stand on the same platform with our titled professionals.
Dr. Luke reports that you are a thin little man, bald, frequently sick, and always so agitated over your little church groups that you sleep very poorly. He states that you pad around the house praying half the night. A healthy mind and a robust body is what we expect and require.
You recently wrote to Timothy that you had “fought a good fight.” Fighting is hardly a recommendation for a missionary. No fight is a good fight. Jesus came not to bring the sword, but peace. You boast too that you fought wild beasts at Ephesus. What on earth do you mean?
It hurts me to tell you this, Paul, but in my 25 years of experience I have never met a man who is so opposite to the requirements of this Mission Board. If we were to accept you, we would be breaking almost every rule in modern missionary practice.
Mr. Heady High-Minded
Director of the MISSIONARY BOARD
That could be edited to include more, of course. For instance, one could say that Paul’s words against the rancor and violence of bullying homosexualist crusaders (Romans 1:18 to the end of the chapter) is not the inclusive way to go these days.
We could add another bit of sarcasm in reference to Paul’s condemnation of doing evil to achieve good, which was very much the modus operandi described in detail in the USCCB’s document on medical ethics.
I wonder if we could come up with a list of saints who were dismissed or discounted or ignored or despised by the world and, indeed, within the Church, but who became the greatest of saints. Oh, that’s right. It would be all of them.
But no, really, how about Saint Francis? Remember his conversation with Brother Leo on perfect joy? That would surely seal one’s fate in most seminaries as being against the super mansions that some of our bishops have built.
And then consider Saint Benedict Joseph Labre?
Saint Ignatius was hailed as insane by all during his visit to Jerusalem?