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  • Writer's pictureThe Hermit of Antipolo

The Authentic Disciple (Modernism Part 15)

Today’s readings:

Romans 13:8-10

Psalm 112:1-9

Luke 14:25-33

The error of Modernism is that modernists look to the good of the human person, but in the process violate the righteousness of God. In their desire to help the poor, the lost, the marginalized, the least and the oppressed, they bend God’s commandments and re-interpret Jesus’ teachings, erring on the side of man rather than looking to the side of God.

Modernists misinterpret what Paul has taught. “Owe nothing to anyone, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.” (Rom 13:8). Thus modernists talk a lot about love, that is, love for human beings. They say that as long as there is love, that is what is of foremost importance. Thus, two male homosexuals must be accepted in their same-sex union because they love each other. A Catholic who is divorced and remarried (but with the original Catholic marriage still intact) can receive Holy Communion, since he or she is now in a new relationship of love. Two unmarried persons can live in together because they love each other.

Indeed, Paul says that “the commandments, …. are summed up in this saying, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Rom 13:9b). But this does not mean that the commandment to love one’s neighbor is the greatest commandment. It is just the second. The first is to love God with our all. And if we truly love our neighbor but fail to love God in every way, then we have failed in obeying God’s commandments. The commandments are summed up in loving one’s neighbor, but loving one’s neighbor is not license to disobey the other commandments.

In fact, what does Paul say? What are summed up in the commandment to love neighbor? These are “the commandments, ‘You shall not commit adultery; you shall not kill; you shall not steal; you shall not covet,’ and whatever other commandment there may be’” (Rom 13:9a).

  • “You shall not commit adultery.” Adultery is a married person indulging in sex with someone not his/her spouse. But modernists in our Church say Catholics who are divorced and remarried can receive Holy Communion. So is that not saying it is OK?

  • “You shall not kill.” Abortion is the murder of the unborn, and is the greatest evil today in the world, including among Catholics. But modernists in our Church do not condemn such public sinners but even allow them to receive Holy Communion. So is that not saying it is OK?

Then Paul says, “love does no evil to the neighbor” (Rom 13:10a). But modernists, in looking to the well-being of the human person, succeed only in allowing them to persist in their sin. They accept, embrace, welcome and accompany the grave sinner but do not try to turn him away from his sin. Thus he persists in sin, is comfortable in his sin, will perish in his sin, and will go to hell for his unrepented sin. Is this not the greatest evil? Indeed, Church pastors who do not speak out about one’s sin become complicit in the sin, and will be held accountable by God for the loss of souls, as they have done evil to their neighbor.

Now consider who actually are our closest neighbors? They are our immediate family members. In fact, we naturally just love our closest kin. But what does Jesus say, which many in their lack of understanding simply gloss over? Jesus says, “If any one comes to me without hating his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.” (Lk 14:26). Instinctively, we know that Jesus cannot mean that we are to actually hate our closest kin. In fact, the fourth commandment tells us to honor our father and our mother.

The key to understanding this shocking statement is right there at the start: If anyone comes to me …. Jesus is talking about discipleship. In Semitic usage, to “hate” is to “love less.” If we are to be Jesus’ disciples, then we must love him with our all. We even deny ourselves. So if we allow our love for kin to keep us from following Jesus wholeheartedly, then we fail in discipleship. So the priority is Jesus first and foremost, then everything else follows. In fact, when we love Jesus, we necessarily end up loving others, starting with our closest relatives.

Aside from the Ten Commandments and Jesus’ reiteration of the two greatest commandments in the gospels, the sequence of God first and then followed by love of neighbor is found throughout the Bible. And so it is with today’s psalm. The just man is described thus: “Lavishly he gives to the poor” (Ps 112:9a). But the psalm starts with this: “Blessed the man who fears the Lord, who greatly delights in his commands.” (Ps 112:1). He delights in God’s commands, all of God’s commands, which start with loving God. He does not skip down to loving neighbor, but in the process violate God’s commands, and thus fail to love God.

In fact, this psalm keeps focusing on one’s righteousness. “His righteousness shall endure forever.” (Ps 112:3b and 9b). He is not just compassionate but upright and righteous (Ps 112:4). Modernists serve man but sacrifice righteousness.

So Modernists get it wrong. They have inverted God’s priorities. They put man first, and then think that serves the will of God. It does not. In fact, oftentimes it violates the will of God.


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