Yesterday I saw a post on Facebook that encapsulated thirty years of really bad catechesis.
The woman posted that Jesus, Muhammad and The Buddha did not found religions; rather, they all preached Love.
It made me sick.
Now, I am not casting aspersions on the woman who posted; she is a well-intentioned person struggling with the concept of a Higher Power. She especially struggles (in my humble opinion) with the idea that there is a God who is specific about behaviors - what is right and what is wrong - and that some of what God deems as wrong feels really, really good when done by His creatures. So, like so many of my generation, she is at odds with the whole "But how could this be a sin if it feels so right and it is all about love?'.
I get it. I absolutely understand her struggle. Her struggle is my struggle because, as a human being who is essentially selfish, self-centered and pleasure driven, I want anything I do that feels good to be something ordained as A-Okay by my Creator. My immaturity in this area is well-documented and the fact that I made a deliberate and intentional decision many years ago to forgo that belief in favor of trusting The Church and receiving Jesus in the Eucharist does not make me a saint. In fact, I believe it makes me a sinner who is taking advantage of the long term care offered by the hospital founded by The Divine Physician Himself - The Catholic Church.
However, that is not why the post made my stomach turn. I got sick because I knew, as a Dominican and as a Catholic Out Loud, I was going to have to put my money where my mouth is (so to speak) and answer that post. I was going to have to dispute her assertion. I was going to have to say, "Uh, no...this is wrong and it is not a matter of me simply disagreeing with you, my friend. It is wrong because of how you have characterized the Lord of the Universe.".
And I hate having to do that - you know why?
Oh hell, you know why - we all do.
I know that, as soon as I post my response I run the risk of not being the Belle of the Ball of Social Media. Everyone will be mad at me...I won't be the most popular girl in the insane asylum that is FaceBook and no one will come to my birthday party or send me a Christmas card because I am a hater and a bigot and somehow forcing my personal brand of Christianity down their throat.
I hate not being liked. It is one of my biggest weaknesses. I want to be loved and admired and while I absolutely understand that is far from possible I want it anyway.
So, why did I answer her?
First of all, to equate Jesus Christ with the Buddha and with Muhammad misses the entire challenge of The Gospel. Jesus did not speak like the Buddha or like Muhammad. He spoke in a particular way that signaled to any believer within earshot that He was not just another prophet. And while some may have misheard or resisted, those who gave themselves to Him knew the right answer to the question, "Who do you Say that I am?".
Bishop Robert Baron teaches that part of our problem with the catechesis of the past 30 or 40 years is that we watered down Christianity until Jesus became just one more really cool guy who said some really nice stuff about loving your neighbor. Jesus' Teachings are now on par with the ever-so-groovy teachings of other mystics or philosophers the world has produced.
What this does, of course, is it completed negates the entire revolutionary reality of God stepping into time and space in order to found a Church, a Church that is designed to facilitate our entry into heaven. Jesus did not say, "You are Peter, and upon this Rock I will build a tri-level condominium". Jesus not only founded a Church, He gave that Church authority to bind and loose that which is acceptable and that which is worthy of us - His creatures.
So often I miss the entire purpose of obedience to the Teachings because I get bound up on the childish and whiny ways my concupiscence expresses itself. But WHY do I have to go to Mass every Sunday when I am tired and I really want to stay in bed? But WHY do I have to watch how I behave when I find it much more comfortable to speak like a drunken sailor on leave, be sexually promiscuous or masturbate or watch porn or just take that stuff that is lying out in the open or flat out lie to people about who and what I am?
My Second Reason: I took on this responsibility as soon as I was Baptized.
Obedience to His Church is a choice - I know that - but it is a choice that is made viable and possible through the Grace provided by the Sacraments available from His Church. It is not just Jesus and me. It is a relationship with the Triune God - Father, Son and Holy Spirit - that allows me to walk this earth with some semblance of dignity.
Did Jesus Christ, Lord and Creator of the Universe, The Lamb of God, teach Love? Yes, of course He did - but He taught much, much more than that and to reduce Him to just one of three highly visible guys that happen to be associated with religion is to overlook Who He said that He IS....
Today, men and women and children are being murdered because they will not reduce the Truth to a pithy statement that embroiders well on a pillow or seems like the right thing to say in a 12 Step meeting. Today, in solidarity with them I can take the chance that I will not be the most popular girl at the lunch room table in the insane asylum. Today, when the question is asked of me I can answer like St Peter did: You are the Christ. The Son of the Living God.
Today, I can be Catholic Out Loud.