Monday, May 6, 2013

"You killed the author of life!"

A reflection on the striking and bold content of the early kerygma:

Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah. (Acts 2:36)
You handed Jesus over to be killed, and you disowned him before Pilate, though he had decided to let him go. You disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you. You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses of this….“Now, fellow Israelites, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did your leaders.Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out... (Acts 3:14-20)
Apparently Peter never got the memo that we preachers are not supposed to mention unpleasant things like sin and certainly not accuse our listeners of having sinned. He apparently didn’t understand that we who preach are supposed to issue the usual bromides of affirmation and speak only in abstractions and generalities. Imagine, he calls them killers, co-conspirators in handing over God to be crucified. Yes, he does: You killed the author of life!
Christianity doesn't make any sense if we refrain from ever speaking about sin, hell, and damnation. Are you saved brother? Saved from what? What do I need a Savior for? Cur Deus Homo? Of course it's possible to speak too much about the terrors of hell and not enough of God's saving love, but it's risible to suggest that the Church is in danger of swinging to that extreme any time soon. If anything we need several decades worth of sonofabitch priests who say from the pulpit every Sunday, "You are going to burn in hell for all eternity if you don't repent, confess, and do penance and get your ass to work on the spiritual and corporal works of mercy."

Monsignor Pope points out what should be obvious: Peter calls out his listeners as murderers of the Son of God and several thousand of them converted that same day; modern preachers go out of their way to never offend anyone and affirm us in our okayness. The result is pews that would be empty were it not for a constant influx of illegal aliens, empty seminaries, empty convents and monasteries, and widespread ignorance and heresy. Fathers, are you afraid that if you speak harshly to your people they will leave? They're leaving anyway.

St. John Vianney, patron of parish priests, routinely reminded his people that hell exists and that they were destined for it if they did not reform their lives. Which is it going to be Fathers: are you going to follow "the memo" that has left the Church in shambles anyway? Or are you going to follow the example of the saints and preach those parts of the Gospel that people find distasteful?


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