THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH
Her Doctrine and Morals
Third Sunday of Advent
15 December 2019
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We are made to know God, but in our fallen nature, we are prone to create a god rather than seek the True One. Throughout the Bible, we see that man easily and repeatedly falls into idolatry. This sin is very offensive to God. In the Ten Commandments, it is the first Thou shall have no strange gods before Me.
In the Gospel for today, we see that men are seeking God in the person of St. John the Baptist. In true humility St. John denies that he is the Christ or the Messiah. The only claim he makes for himself is that he is a voice crying in the wilderness to make straight the Way of the Lord.
All that exists is made by God, and therefore, everything has this goodness to one degree or another. All of creation has a resemblance to God. The mountains, rivers and oceans, the trees, the fishes, the birds, the cattle, etc. show us the beauty and the wisdom of God, but none of these are God. We see the image or reflection of God in all creation. We must always be careful not to confuse the reflection with the Reality. Some of the early Christian philosophers considered creatures as signs pointing to God. As we investigate them and see their good qualities, we are reminded that they have these qualities from God and not from themselves.
St. Francis of Assisi looked upon all creatures as his brothers and sisters because they all have the same Creator or Father in Heaven as we have. St. Francis was not a pantheist. He did not believe any of these creatures were gods, nor did he worship any of them. However, he never tired of seeing the image of God in them. They brought constant joy to his heart as they continually revealed glimpses of God Himself. This is true wisdom to be able to see the reflection of God in all His creatures, but never to be deceived into thinking that these are God Himself.
Jesus praised St. John the Baptist as the greatest of the prophets. St. John was of noble ancestry. He was austere, he was truthful and just. There was much that was good in him, however St. John tells us himself, that he is not God or the Savior. St. John's own disciples would have accepted St. John as their Savior if St. John had not denied it and sent them to Jesus.
The weakness of our fallen nature in this matter is often assisted by the workings of demons. The devils do all that they can to get us to turn away from the True God. They do not care if we turn to ourselves or other men, trees, or animals, or even the earth. The devils do not even demand that we recognize or worship them. Their evil delight is just getting us to worship an image of any kind so that we fail to know and worship the One True God.
The times, names and places have all changed throughout history, but the workings of evil spirits have not changed. We need constant reminders that there is only One God, Jesus is His Only-begotten Son, the True Catholic Church is His only Bride. There is some element of truth or goodness in all the false religions, but this does not make them true churches of Jesus Christ. We must not be deceived by these natural gifts and mistake them for spiritual ones. The late Bishop Louis Vezelis OFM once said that the false religions are like poisoned wells. In a poisoned well there is mostly water and the water is good. It is the small amount of poison that corrupts and makes harmful even the goodness of the water. Ninety-nine percent of what a false religion teaches may be true, but it is the one percent of error that corrupts everything. The devils have created many false religions that have some truth and goodness in them, but there is always an element of error and that element of error leads them to worship a false Jesus and thus end up in idolatry.
The True Church is not God, but She is His Mystical Body. He lives in Her and through Her. She is the means that God uses to draw us to Himself. She has the fullness of spiritual power from Him. She teaches, rules or governs, and she sanctifies us, all in His Name. The individual men in the Church are not perfect, nor are they gods. We need to understand that the Church is perfect and perfects those who enter and belong to Her. She perfects those who will hear Her teachings, obey Her rules, and receive Her Sacraments. It is not the workings of men that perfect the Church, but it is the perfections of the Church that perfect men. She is One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic and She teaches, governs, and sanctifies in the Name of Jesus Christ Her true Spouse.
Today, The Church with St. John is like a voice crying in the wilderness. She shows us the True Jesus Christ and therefore the True God. Let us not make gods out of any men, even those in the True Church. The best that men in the True Church can say is with St. Paul that any goodness you see in them is not them, but Christ Jesus living in them.
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