A few weeks ago, Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco issued a statement announcing that Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi would be barred from Holy Communion until she renounced her aggressive support for abortion and returned to the state of grace through reconciliation. This resulted in a veritable firestorm of reactions, many positive and many negative. Cordileone was supported by many who acknowledged his valid use of Canon Law and appreciated his attempts to converse with Pelosi prior to his decision.
Many of those who disagreed with Cordileone’s decision made arguments revolving around the idea that he was acting contrary to Christ’s teaching that all were called to salvation. They said that since Jesus taught inclusion and charity, the Church has no ground to stand on by barring anybody from the sacraments. That, unfortunately, is a grave misconception that stems from the caricaturing of Jesus and the errant weaponization of His words and scriptural teaching.
Cale spent a segment of The Cale Clarke Show discussing an article by Nathaniel Blake that talks about this very tactic that is, ironically enough, most often employed by people who disagree with the Catholic Church, the Church founded by Jesus.
Cale began by talking about this version of Jesus that many have conjured up in their head to fit their desires. As he has said before, you can make the Bible say whatever you want it to. By cherry-picking passages and phrases, anybody can misinterpret the Bible to fit the lifestyle that they want it to, and many choose this version of Jesus that’s a “chill dude”. “You do you. Think what you want because everybody is a product of their environment. Do what you want because I welcome all. Live how you want because I don’t judge, and I don’t exclude anybody from God’s kingdom.” In their minds, He is a one-dimensional caricature of the person they see in the mirror. In other words, “Jesus would think what I would think on this matter.”
But Nathaniel Blake wonders if any of the people choosing to weaponize Jesus’s words against the Church have ever read the Bible. Jesus did tell us that we should love our enemies and that we should turn the other cheek, but He did not come to spread an over-emotionalized version of moral apathy. We don’t turn a blind eye to evil, and we certainly don’t embrace it. None of Jesus’s teachings revolved around stagnation or the status quo. He came to radicalize the world.
The love that Jesus brought to us was not a “tame love”, Blake writes. Rather, it’s a “fiery love” that challenges those who err and condemns those who embrace evil. “There is fear and trembling, as well as comfort, in reading the words of Jesus.” We cannot choose what we want to hear. To fully understand the entire message of Jesus, we need all of scripture and the Magisterium to help us interpret it.
Those who only quote Jesus in John 3:16 and John 13:34 should also see what Jesus has to say in Chapters 5 and 10 of Matthew, Chapter 1 of Mark, and Chapter 5 of Luke:
“’This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.’” (Mark 1:15)
“From that time on, Jesus began to preach and say, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’” (Matthew 4:17)
“Behold, I am sending you like sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and simple as doves.” (Matthew 10:16)
“Do not think that I have come to bring peace upon the earth. I have come to bring not peace but the sword.” (Matthew 10:34)
“Jesus said to them in reply, ‘Those who are healthy do not need a physician, but the sick do. I have not come to call the righteous to repentance but sinners.” (Luke 5:31-32)
These teachings must be taken in tandem, as well as everything else Jesus said. Christianity is a radically different way of thinking, and it always has been. Just look at the sermon on the mount. If something causes you to sin, “cut it off”. Do not commit adultery in your heart. Divorce is adultery adjacent. Do not swear oaths, but let your ‘yes’ mean ‘yes’, and your ‘no’ mean ‘no’. So why is it surprising that Christian love would be so radical?
The goal of Christian love isn’t to help people feel content in their imperfections. It’s about showing people that they are meant for more and we can always reach new heights in striving to emulate Christ, and that may require life-altering changes.
This radical call to action from Our Lord can either be the cause of indignation, anxiety, and resentment, or we can choose to see it as a message of hope. We are being called, one and all, for a greater purpose. If we follow Christ, we will experience greater joy than we have ever known. But if we freely choose the path of wickedness, the consequences should come as no surprise.
Tune in to The Cale Clarke Show weekdays at 5pm CT