Sunday, March 21, 2010

Teaching the hard truths

Father John Zuhlsdorf (the irrepressible “Fr. Z”) over at What Does the Prayer Really Say has a quite stunning mini-sermon entitled, “Here it is in a nutshell, folks”. It starts off with the bald assertion, “You are going to die.” And it doesn’t get any lighter from there. Unless you count the concession that your passing on could be a few years from now. (Leading one combox frequenter to remark, “I see Fr. Happy Fun Priest is in full form today.”)

The timing is interesting because Msgr. Charles Pope on the Archdiocese of Washington blog had a piece up the other day on the common Catholic complaint about the poor quality of homilies. The entry included a speech by another priest, Fr. Bill Casey, about superficial preaching, that had me practically shouting “Hallelujah!” by the end of it. Msgr. Pope isn’t afraid to tackle the harder points of the faith; I’ve referenced his reflection on genocide in the Old Testament in my other blog. His piece from November, “Five Hard Truths That Will Set You Free”, is worth reading as well.

“For [God] will render to every man according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are factious and do not obey the truth, but obey wickedness, there will be wrath and fury” (Rom 2:6-8 RSV).

“For if we sin deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful prospect of judgment, and a fury of fire which will consume the adversaries. A man who has violated the law of Moses dies without mercy at the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much worse punishment do you think will be deserved by the man who has spurned the Son of God, and profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and outraged the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people” [Dt 32:35-36]. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Heb 10:26-30 RSV).

This ain’t no “Buddy Jesus” preaching, folks. This is the unwatered wine of the Gospel. Hell is one of the unalterable dogmatic truths of the Faith. What we do here and now matters, both in this life and at the Judgment to come.

Don’t like it? Tough cookies.