Prepare the Way

Denouncing sin and sinful influences was a favorite activity in my youth, at least for many radio preachers and the more outraged Christian folks. I think they were sincere.

Their antics started me thinking, which eventually led me to become a Catholic.

I don’t think they’d have approved, since a ‘sinful’ influence they denounced fairly often was the Catholic Church. More accurately, what they thought was the Church. Like the fellow said:

“There are not a hundred people in America who hate the Catholic Church. There are millions of people who hate what they wrongly believe to be the Catholic Church — which is, of course, quite a different thing.”
(“Radio Replies Vol. 1,” Forward, page ix, Fulton J. Sheen (1938) via Wikiquote)

My parents, happily, were with a Protestant denomination that wasn’t on the same page as the ‘denouncers.’ Protestant churches weren’t and aren’t all alike, and that’s another topic.

I had something else in mind for today’s post, a train of thought that started with Monday’s Gospel reading.

Then last week happened, including a special Mass on Friday: the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

It’s a pretty big deal, but not because we worship Mary. Putting anyone or anything where God belongs in our hearts and minds is a bad idea and we shouldn’t do it. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 21122114)

Where was I? ‘Sinful’ influences, thinking, becoming a Catholic, Advent. Right.

About the picture up there. It illustrated Mary’s interview with Gabriel. We’ll be reading about that on Christmas Eve. Gabriel had a message for Zachariah, too. I talked about those folks last year. (December 18, 2016)

There’s a family get-together this weekend, so I’ll have even less time than I thought. Family is a good idea, within reason, and that’s yet another topic.

What I had to say about centurions will wait. A quick look at Sunday’s Bible readings gave me an idea which I figured would take a whole lot less time to put together.

Getting Ready

Today’s Old Testament reading is from Isaiah 40, the part that includes “…In the desert prepare the way of the LORD!….”

Next is “…with the Lord one day is like a thousand years and a thousand years like one day…” in Second Peter. I was going to say something about that, too: which will also have to wait.

Sunday’s Gospel reading talks about John the Baptist.

I suggest reading all three: Isaiah 50:15, 911; 2 Peter 3:814; Mark 1:18.

All three readings talk about getting ready for the messiah, or repentance, or both. Explaining why I think repentance is a good idea means talking about sin.

First off, sin does not mean having personal preferences that aren’t just like mine.

I got the impression that radio preachers I heard didn’t quite see a difference between unchanging commandments of God and their taste in music and politics. That sort of thing seems to be much less popular now, and I don’t mind a bit.

Sinners

I could try kidding myself into believing that I’m not a sinner because I haven’t robbed a bank or killed someone. Or assume that “sinners” are folks who have the good sense to not go moping around, trying to make everyone else as miserable as they are.

Both seem like bad ideas. But there’s a (tiny) element of truth in both.

Blatantly obvious high-profile bad behavior like stealing from an outfit that holds the fortunes of many folks is a bad idea. I shouldn’t do it. But I should also avoid less obvious lapses in judgment.

There’s more to life than avoiding sin, happily. Realizing that we live in a world filled with beauty and wonders is a good idea. I talk about that quite a bit. (October 20, 2017; December 9, 2016)

But indulging in smug self-congratulation, or seeing misery as virtue? Not good ideas. (June 18, 2017; July 10, 2016)

Sin

Sin is what happens when I offend reason, truth, and God. (Catechism, 18491851)

That happens much more often than I like. I don’t consistently do what I know is good for me, and avoid what’s bad; so I’m a sinner. (Catechism, 1706, 1776, 1955)

Feeling bad that I did something wrong is okay. Cherishing that feeling isn’t. Emotions can tell me that there’s something I need to do. Deciding what to do should involve thinking, and that’s yet again another topic. (October 5, 2016)

Feeling bad about sinning won’t do much good unless I notice what it was that I did. Then I should decide to at least try not doing it again, and have a shot at correcting the harm I’ve caused. There’s a sacramental angle, too. (Catechism, 14221470)

Instead of focusing on what I shouldn’t do, I’ll touch briefly on what I should be doing.

I should love God, love my neighbor, see everybody as my neighbor, and act like I believe it. (Matthew 5:4344, 22:3640; Mark 12:2831; Luke 6:31, 10:2537; Catechism, 1789)

Treating others the way I want them to treat me is a good idea, too. (Matthew 7:12)

It’s quite simple, and pretty much the opposite of easy.

More, mostly why I think acting like God and love matter makes sense:

About Brian H. Gill

I'm a sixty-something married guy with six kids, four surviving, in a small central Minnesota town. I mostly write and make digital art. I'm only interested in three things: that which exists within the universe; that which exists beyond; and that which might exist.
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2 Responses to Prepare the Way

  1. irishbrigid says:

    Delayed stutter: “Then I should then”

    The Friendly Neighborhood Proofreader

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