“The Invisible; visible”
by Pat Miron …I am Catholic
Having endeavored for many years and in various ways to share our Catholic Faith, I have long been frustrated by biblical evidence that seems clear, concise and direct, yet is very often either ignored, denied, or misunderstood. I also know that God grants us two choices. Either we are in charge of our lives and after-lives, or He is. And this is not a shared responsibility. We either conform our lives to Gods way, or struggle with the consequence of trying to do it alone. But, just what God’s ways are seems to be the disputed factors. Can they be mutually agreed upon?
From “THE LIFE OF CHRIST” By Archbishop Fulton Sheen
“The choice that lies before men is either the hypothesis of culpable insincerity or the fact that He spoke the literal truth and, therefore, MUST be taken at His word. … We must either lament His madness or adore His person, but we cannot rest on the assumption that He was a professor of ethical culture. Rather one can say with Chesterton, “expect the grass to wither and the birds to drop dead out of the air, when a strolling carpenter’s apprentice say’s calmly and almost carelessly, like one looking over his shoulder” “Before Abraham was I AM .”
What is to be our informed response to these challenges to our Catholic Faith beliefs? Even understanding that true Faith is a Gift from God; that God Himself must initiate this opportunity, and that without true Faith, right understanding is not possible.
Lets choose just three examples that make this point clear. 1. The belief of Only one God; One set of Faith-beliefs, and only One Church. 2. Belief in the “Real Presence.” And 3. Confession and forgiveness of sins.
- Nowhere in the entire bible does God; Yahweh or Christ so much as hint that belief in more than one God, or only one set of faith beliefs, or only one religious “body” is deemed acceptable. God’s undeserved Old Testament reputation as “mean and vengeful” stem from God’s intolerance of a perceived personal choice, held obstinately by the Hebrew nation and was the cause of necessary chastisement inflicted, time and time again, until obedience was accepted. The New Testament alone has over 100 references to Only One Church.
John.10: 16 “And I have other sheep that are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will heed my voice. So there shall be one flock, one shepherd”
Eph. 4: 1-7 “I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all lowliness and meekness, with patience, forbearing one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of us all, who is above all and through all and in all. But grace was given to each of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift.
Eph. 2:19-20 “So then you are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are built into it for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.”
2 Unbelief in the “Real Presence”
This is even more astounding because it requires ignoring not only the very words of Christ Himself, but also of Matthew 26:26-28, Mark 14: 22-24, Luke 22: 19-21, Paul 1st. Corinthians 11:23-29, and all of John six. Notably verses 54-56: “he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.” [Which is precisely what takes place when worthily received.].
This denial of what seems to be an evident truth rest on a single verse; verse 63: “It is the spirit that gives life, the flesh is of no avail; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.” And this is addressed by Christ personally in verses 53 through 58. Even Christ decision to allow many to abandon Him, and then invite Peter and the others to do the same is missed, with no denial of His truth being credited to Him as evidence of His words.
- The forgiveness of sin [God’s way.]
This too is strange in that the words of Christ are so clear, and concise as to not permit misunderstanding. John.20: 23 “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” Support this with the Old Testament practice of using priest in a similar, albeit, less significant role, and grounds for not accepting this teaching seem founded on quicksand theology and misunderstood platitudes.
Lev.4: 20,26, 31 “Thus shall he do with the bull; as he did with the bull of the sin offering, so shall he do with this; and the priest shall make atonement for them, and they shall be forgiven. …] And all its fat he shall burn on the altar, like the fat of the sacrifice of peace offerings; so the priest shall make atonement for him for his sin, and he shall be forgiven. …And all its fat he shall remove, as the fat is removed from the peace offerings, and the priest shall burn it upon the altar for a pleasing odor to the LORD; and the priest shall make atonement for him, and he shall be forgiven.
So what’s a Catholic to do? There are I hear, many thousands of Protestant communions, none of which agree with all three of these issues.
First we too must recognize that God is in charge and allow God to do the “heavy work.” This does not excuse our own involvement; but does limit the results we might expect.
Our response must exemplify extraordinary charity and patience. We should state our case clearly and support it biblically [as most other evidences will be denied], and then back off and pray for them. Yes we can challenge them and encourage them; but always carefully and prayerfully. Most importantly we must make evident our beliefs in how we live our faith.