Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Bishop Robert Vasa on Christ's meekness and strength

The Catholic Sentinel, the newspaper of the Archdiocese of Portland and the Diocese of Baker, both in Oregon, recently published a column in which Bishop Robert Vasa of Baker reflected on the multi-faceted nature of Christ's approach to issues that were controversial in both his own day and ours.

We live in an age which places a very strong emphasis on tolerance, mutuality, and acceptance. I have heard repeatedly over the years that “Jesus never judged, condemned or excluded anyone.” I wonder if Peter would agree as the words of Jesus, “Get behind me you Satan,” rang in his ears. I wonder if the Scribes and the Pharisees would agree as they rankled at being called whitened sepulchers or broods of vipers. I wonder if those who heard Jesus say, “Whoever leads one of these little ones astray, it would be better if he had a millstone tied around his neck and be cast into the sea,” nodded approval and said, “He is so tolerant and accepting.” This verse is included, virtually verbatim, in each of the three Synoptic Gospels, Matthew, Mark and Luke.

I certainly have no qualms about the image of Jesus as kind and gentle, or with Jesus’ own description of Himself as “meek and humble of heart.” I see and appreciate the great appeal of one of the most recent devotions fostered so powerfully by our late Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, that of Divine Mercy. Each of these attractive and reassuring aspects of Jesus needs to be remembered. These are aspects of Jesus that we cannot afford to forget and to which we can and must cling.

At the same time we do well not to forget that the Lord is also a “God of power and might.” Jesus stood up to the guards who came to arrest him in the Garden of Gethsemane. He stood courageously before Pilate. He bore His cross with noble, unflinching determination. He is not a God of weakness. He is strong and He defends His people. This accounts for the strong language used when the “little ones” of His flock are put at risk.

Go here to read the rest of this column.

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