Revelation 3:16 (Yes, 3:16): “Because you are lukewarm [tepid, sickeningly room temp.], neither hot nor cold, I am about to vomit you out of my mouth.”
That’s kind of redundant, isn’t it? “Vomit” and “out of mouth”? That reinforces a vivid, intense disgust.
I once saw Laudie-dog take up a toad into her mouth. She instantly dropped it and shook her head side to side with quite a bit of violence, and was – how to describe it? – reverse licking her chops, desperately trying to get toad-slime out of her mouth. This went on for minutes. You get the picture. The toad pictured here is right next to Shadow-dog’s and Laudie-dog’s fence. They both entirely ignore the toad.
The other beast ubiquitous this time of year is the stink-bug introduced just these last few years to these USA. The dogs also entire ignore these ultra-super-stinky creatures that look like wood-ticks on steroids, like some sort of King-Kong of the tick world, except that they are herbivorous. They have no natural predator wasps in these USA, yet.
ANALOGY: The whole vomit thing is how I feel about some things since Pope Benedict abdicated being the Bishop of Rome. As you know, I defend the person of Pope Francis to the extreme, and beg for prayers for him frequently (Hail Mary…). He’s the Pope. We must pray for him. Our Lord prayed for Peter just as Peter is denying Him three times. Peter became a saint. The Lord will hold us to our obligation to pray for the successor of Peter regardless of what side of whatever we are on.
- Having said that, I have a terrible and even physical revulsion to purposed ambiguity, the smacking down of doctrine and morality and any bullying. There are too many incidents to list. Amoris laetitia, effectively burning down the JPII Institute for Marriage and the Family, the patronizing, condescending dismissal of the humanity of those in the Amazon regions, holding that they have no real capacity for faith or morality, the upcoming destabilization of the Roman Curia by extracting executive power, a driving engine, therefore, for free and easy rebellion. So, intense disgust? Yes.
But I am still the Bishop of Rome’s faithful Missionary of Mercy. And I thank the Successor of Saint Peter for what he has done for me as a Missionary of Mercy, and what he has done for others at my request. I am not ungrateful. I am very grateful. As I say, for all the things I speak about with parrhesia (speaking boldly regardless of the consequences), I’m never been smacked down for that by this Bishop of Rome.
To say that I ignore all the purposed ambiguity in my own spiritual life and in my priestly duties is, however, a mischaracterization. It’s true that I don’t allow, by the grace of God, any jaded cynicism to turn me into a fire breathing dragon full of hate for God and neighbor just because of someone else’s misadventures. Instead, I use failures of certain ecclesiastics to fire me up all the more in my preaching, in my solidarity with Jesus in the offering of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, in my priestly duties with the sick and dying. Much better, that, don’t you agree? I have never backed down from correcting those who have fallen for false-accompaniment of now purposely continued sin. Instead, I go after all the hot-button topics all the more. :-)
Here’s the deal: I have a much higher appreciation of the intellectual and moral capacities of people than many others in the church right now. I have a much higher appreciation of the power of our Lord’s redemption of us and of the possibility that we be saved. Why’s that, you ask? Because I know that, of myself, without the grace of God, I myself am a sinner who would block out all reasoning power about that sin. I would be hopeless, except for the grace of God. And I know, having been open to forgiveness, how powerful the Lord’s love and forgiveness is. As Saint Thomas More said to the Duke of Norfolk: “It’s not that I believe; it’s that I BELIEVE.
- I would absolutely HATE it if people, if priests didn’t bother to put me on the right track, just “accompanied” me in my sin (such as my impatience with Pope Francis), taking me seriously, instead of calling me out of my sin by unapologetically (re-)introducing me Jesus Christ, taking Him seriously, the Divine Son of the Immaculate Conception, who bears the wounds of the slaughter of our sins upon Himself. I would hope that if I ever took myself seriously, people would smack me down on my knees to be in humble thanksgiving, not to myself, but to Jesus.
So, a couple of points:
- We should be disgusted with ourselves if we are apart from God, just as much as God would be to vomit us out of His mouth, so to speak, just as Laudie-dog would be wanting to vomit a toad out of her mouth.
- On the contrary, we read in Psalm 34:8 – “Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him.”
The Aphorism! Don’t take ourselves seriously. Take Jesus seriously.