The Two Temptations

for May 23rd, 2014
Friday of the Fifth Week of Easter

Liturgical texts here



THERE are two powerful temptations that the Church is going to face in the days ahead to draw souls from the narrow road that leads to life. One is what we examined yesterday—the voices who wish to shame us for holding fast to the Gospel.

These forces insist that the Church’s teachings are out of date, retrograde, insensitive, uncompassionate, illiberal, bigoted, even hateful. —National Catholic Prayer Breakfast, May 15th, 2014;

The other is a temptation that will attempt to downplay the significance of doctrine, suggesting that we can all be “one” without the baggage of “obscure dogmas.” In a word, syncretism.

But we have a beautiful witness in this week’s readings from Acts on how to resist these pitfalls. For we see that all their acts are carefully and deliberately deferred to Apostolic Tradition. They do not treat truth lightly, handling it carefully as though Someone had died for it. In today’s first reading, the disciples are quick to extinguish the first flames of heresy:

Since we have heard that some of our number who went out without any mandate from us have upset you with their teachings and disturbed your peace of mind…

Already we see the early Church grappling with the practical applications of Christ’s command to “love one another.” Yes, love at its heart is a sacrificial service and emptying of self for another. But love also guides, warns, corrects, disciplines, and cares for another’s well-being, especially spiritual well-being. How can love not speak when danger lies ahead? Morals are the pragmatic voice of love and thus closely linked to Christ’s mandate:

This is my commandment: love one another as I love you… Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations… teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. (Today’s Gospel and Matt 28:19-20)

Thus, after consulting the Apostles and the apostolic teachings, they deliver the message that, among other things, “unlawful marriage” is not to be permitted.

Nothing is different today. We have a mandate that is not ours to change.

If Jesus said, “the truth will set you free,” then how can truth be insignificant? The corollary is that falsehoods lead us to slavery.

Amen, amen, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin. A slave does not remain in a household forever, but a son always remains. (John 8:34-35)

We are brothers and sisters in Christ with our separated brethren. In fact, we are brothers and sisters with unbelievers to the extent that we have our common shared humanity through our first parents. As such, we can and should find a common consensus by which to build a more just and peaceful society. But this should only increase our zeal to evangelize and teach the nations those saving truths of Christ—first, the good news that Jesus has come to reconcile us with the Father, and then the moral doctrines which flow from them—so as to liberate all peoples in the joy of truth. The salvation of souls is our zenith.

Truth matters. Truth is Christ. Truth is the foundation on which a civilization of love is built, and the divine light that scatters the lies of darkness. We are called not only to be one “in the Spirit,” but also of “one mind.” [1]cf. Phil 1:27 Brothers and sisters, if you wish to be friends of Christ, reject the two temptations we are now facing.

I no longer call you slaves, because a slave does not know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father. (Today’s Gospel)

My heart is steadfast, O God; my heart is steadfast… (Today’s Psalm)







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1 cf. Phil 1:27