Ezekiel 33:9
If, however, you warn the wicked to turn from their ways, but they do not, then they shall die in their sins, but you shall save your life.
The biggest challenge to this reading is the question of how we are supposed to correct someone. We have probably all come across people or situations where we could have said something constructive, but it came out very destructive.
The hardest mission God has given us is to call people to holiness. That means turning away from every kind of sin, from every kind of wickedness. This is especially hard in our society today when the expected reactions are supposed to be an attitude of “live and let live”, laissez-faire, or as Pope emeritus Benedict said, “we are living in a ‘dictatorship of relativism’.”
For some people in our society today, any kind of criticism that does not conform to a certain type of agenda is not allowed to even be mentioned. This even went so far as to cause a man to be murdered this week in Portland, Oregon when all he was doing was walking down the street wearing a hat that called for prayer! At least that is what I believe I heard from the news.
How do we bring our Christian standards into a world that does not see how damaging THEY have become in their way of life? When we try to present the simple truths that God calls us to live by, we are called bigots, racists, even worse names. It is as though they throw those names around thinking that all they have to do is mention those types of names and we will be silenced.
We hear St. Paul calling us to love one another, calling us to not do evil to our neighbors. How are we able to stand before a world that has turned virtue into vice and vice into virtue?
It is not virtuous to fail to tell someone that their lives are shambles before God!
Yes, there are good ways, and there are bad ways to get this message across to those who desperately need to hear it. We are so polarized that we can hardly listen to one another.
I am sorry to say that I do not have solutions for what causes our problems in these days. I do not understand how to reach over the walls that have been erected in people’s hearts. No one, on either side of these polarized issues, seems to be able to listen to the other. That frustration has caused violence and rage.
The only solution – the only solution – has to be in Christ. There are those who try to tell us that Christianity has been a source of a majority of the bloodshed over the last two millennia, and that we Christians should back off from the social scene and let someone else try to run society. But this cannot work. We have seen what a non-Christian society looks like. We are seeing it even today. – The only solution has to be in Christ.
But in order for that to happen, I am afraid that this world must see that we, as Christians, choose to respond as the Old Testament, Jesus, and Paul said: “you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” That is something that has been hard to fulfill. When I look at the number of people who choose to fight for this “dictatorship of relativism”, I can see the despair in their actions and I do not know how to reach them other than to tell them that: – The only solution has to be in Christ.
In the closing line of the gospel this weekend, Jesus promises that when we are gathered in his name he is with us. His presence among his church enables us to overcome the failures of human nature and leads us to fulfill his call to holiness. – The only solution has to be in Christ.
In truth, this means that we must be like Christ. It may especially mean that we will face new forms of persecution, possibly even death, because of our commitment to the only solution.
Are you ready to pursue the only solution, regardless of the cost? It may even mean your life because you decide to stand for love instead of hate, for virtue instead of vice, for peace instead of violence, for Christ instead of relativism. There is an old saying: the church was watered by the blood of the martyrs.
If you choose to say that “the only solution has to be in Christ,” you may face these very things. I pray that we will all have the strength and the courage to be committed to Christ regardless of what he asks. I further pray that God’s protection will be on us all that we may not face the kinds of persecutions that I think may be coming. I pray that our society will become awake to the glory, truth, and virtue that resides in Christ.