Date: 11/13/2003 1:28:27 PM
Name or Pseudonym: Oscar
Ultimately only God knows. However, we have been given a number of guidelines and examples to follow.
Today we like to focus on Gods mercy because it salves our consciences to avoid reflecting on his justice. "Judge not lest ye be judged" we are reminded. Yet the very same Bible that contains that passage also directs us to rebuke our neighbor, even publicly, if our neighbor is willfully sinning. We can not go about subjectively applying the Bible to ourselves, our Faith, and our neighbor, as if "love" replaces correction or even temporal punishment - it is for our neighbors good that we must be prepared to rebuke him.
Presumption of Gods mercy is actually a sin. We must remove the beams from our own eyes to be sure, but charity toward our neighbor directs us to nudge him in the right direction too.
Love can and often must proclaim severe truths, use hard arguments, and speak in tones of fearful power; and the deeper, the truer, the more tender it is, the more firm and uncompromising, the more stern and unflinching it will prove itself, whenever occasion requires. Who calls the surgeon cruel and uncharitable, because he probes to the bottom or cuts to the quick? It is not always safe to conclude that the man of a severe exterior, or firm and decided speech, who makes no compromise with sin, and yields nothing to error or her deluded votaries, is necessarily hard-hearted and stranger to the infinite tenderness of the Gospel; or that your pretty men with smiling faces, bland tones, gentle caresses, and ready condescensions are not sometimes cold and heartless, that they are generally men of warm and gushing hearts, large souls, and generous sympathies, prepared to sacrifice all they have and all they are for the love of God and their neighbor. I guess the bottom line is that we Catholics should be helping each other become properly attired, not congratulating each other for getting along at the cost of our souls.