For today’s blog, I intended to continue with our 10 recommended steps for learning more about the Catholic Faith. However, I was struck by the powerful first reading from today’s Mass (1 Jn 2:3-11) and felt compelled to reflect upon it. John is very blunt when he states, “The way we may be sure that we know Jesus is to keep his commandments. Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him.”
Many of us will look at that verse and feel reassured that we are doing The Lord’s will. We love The Church and abide by her commandments. However, how do we feel about our fellow Catholics who aren’t obedient? About those who “pick and choose” the teachings that they want to believe? About those who feel it morally permissible to vote for pro-abortion candidates, skip Sunday Mass or use artificial birth control? What do we say when a coworker attacks the Catholic Church? How do we react when we attend Christmas Mass and the people “who only show up once a year” try to squeeze into our pew?
John continues, “Whoever says he is in the light, yet hates his brother, is still in the darkness. Whoever loves his brother remains in the light, and there is nothing in him to cause a fall. ” Uh-oh… I don’t hate my brother, but the second sentence hits a little too close to home. Have we ever been guilty of being uncharitable to a brother or sister while trying to stand up for what’s right? I know that I have. This is a constant struggle for those of us who are trying to get closer to The Lord by studying our Catholic Faith.
While it is important to stand up for the teachings of the Catholic Church, we must always do it in a charitable manner. As St. Peter states, “Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope, but do it with gentleness and reverence, keeping your conscience clear, so that, when you are maligned, those who defame your good conduct in Christ may themselves be put to shame.” (1 Pt 3:15-16)