I took the small scroll from the angel’s hand and swallowed it. In my mouth it was like sweet honey, but when I had eaten it, my stomach turned sour.
Chesterton rather famously said, “Christianity has not been tried and found wanting, it has been found difficult and not tried.” Every time I take a look in the Bible I feel the same way. St John’s image of a scroll that tasted pretty good, but made him vomit once it got all inside is spot on. This whole thing seems pretty easy to swallow: love, peace, forgiveness. It’s only once it gets inside and starts working through your system that you realize, it means love for some pretty unsavory types. It means turning the other cheek to some people you’d rather deck. It means forgiving even your bully brother. Forgiving Hitler was easy and abstract, but the boss who steals your time without pay is hard, hard, hard to forgive.
This Sunday folks in most western liturgical places will celebrate the Feast of Christ the King. It’s good to remember that his kingship is over all things in heaven and on earth, seen and unseen. But come Monday morning, it’s so much easier to buy one of these things instead, and call it your Christianity:
- The Jesus Seminar credo: “All the stuff you don’t like isn’t real so just ignore it.”
- The Oprahtyrians credo: “All the stuff you don’t like only applies to people who can’t think for themselves.”
- The Newager credo: “All these words means something totally different and you don’t have to go to Church.”
- The Conservatives credo: “Ignore all those financial things. Just follow some moral things.”
- The Progressives credo: “Ignore all the sexual things. Make up some inclusive justice things.”
- The Americans credo: “Pick what you want if you want and when you want. Throw it aside when done.”
You know – as do I – what the Saints clearly teach: the first thing one sees when one opens up the Gospel of Jesus is that that thing, whatever that thing is, whatever I hold dearest and most important to my identity that is not Jesus himself… that thing must go. It must go first. It must go quickly. Or there just isn’t room for Jesus. After that first thing goes, eventually everything else has to go as well. So when I open the Gospel and actually read it, the very last thing I want to do is swallow it whole.
Christianity is very difficult. And Christ will be King of All – or nothing.
Have you heard this rumor going around about some politician or other wanting to register all the Muslims in America just, you know, to have a list of names in case he needs it? It’s probably just a rumor. Or a fringe, or maybe an outright lie created by people who want to discredit something or other. Or maybe it’s one of those fake news sites I keep reading about, that has gone viral with no fact checking. Or maybe it’s real. We say, “It can’t happen here” as if it hasn’t already happened, with the Japanese, with Africans, with Irish, with millions of tribal persons whose lands we now inhabit.
Jesus died for us while we were yet sinners, the righteous for the unrighteous. I believe this and all the truths which the Catholic Church believes and teaches because God who can neither deceive nor be deceived has revealed them So, if they come for the Muslims, taking names: I’m with Jesus. I will register. I will gum up the works. I will die. I’m sure they’ll want to find a way to weed out the Christians and say, “not this time, but you’re turn will come”. But maybe one life will be saved, maybe a soul will.
St Maximilian Kolbe, pray for us.