Nemo Vos Seducat


The Readings for the Day before the Nones of January,
Memorial of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton:

Filioli, nemo vos seducat. Qui facit justitiam, justus est, sicut et ille justus est. 

Little children, let no man deceive you. He that doth justice is just, even as he is just.

You know, Martin Luther didn’t like the Epistle of James because of that passage “Faith without works is dead”. He called it, rather famously, an Epistle of Straw. I’m beginning to think St John had a lot more straw in him than Luther noticed. 

The KJV will render this “he that doeth righteousness is righteous even as he (Jesus) is righteous”.  As in the Latin, and the English, so in the Greek. It’s the one who is doing these things that is this thing. We show our faith in Christ by acting like Christ. We do not sin: not because it “gets us into heaven” but rather because acting like Christ heals us, makes us whole, saves us.

Furthermore, nemo vos seducat: let no one deceive you. The Apostles only pull out that line (or cognates like “Be ye not deceived” etc) when there’s something huge on the line. And when someone had been trying to do that very deception. In this case again, as noted yesterday, we had people saying sex was not important for it was the flesh and not the spirit that was thereby polluted.

But in the Gospel the soul and the body are one: they will be reunited on the last day either for eternal life, or for hell. Be not deceived: what we do in the body bears fruit in the soul and what the soul does bears fruit in the body. 

Let no one deceive you – no one including Amy Grant:

I have decided,I’m gonna live like a believer,Turn my back on the deceiver,I’m gonna live what I believe.
I have decided,Being good is just a fable,I just can’t ’cause I’m not able.I’m gonna leave it to the Lord.
There’s a wealth of things that I profess,I said that I believed,But deep inside I never changed;I guess I’d been deceived.
‘Cause a voice inside kept telling me,That I’d change by and by,But the Spirit made it clear to me,That kind of life’s a lie.
I have decided,I’m gonna live like a believer,Turn my back on the deciver,I’m gonna live what I believe.
I have decided,Being good is just a fable,I just can’t ’cause I’m not able.I’m gonna leave it to the Lord.
So forget the game of being good,And your self-righteous pain.‘Cause the only good inside your heartIs the good that Jesus brings.
And when the world begins to see you change,Don’t expect them to applaud.Just keep your eyes on Him and tell yourself,I’ve become the work of God.
I have decided,I’m gonna live like a believer,Turn my back on the deceiver,I’m gonna live what I believe.

Cuz being Good is just a fable… we can take that to mean “I’m not going to get into heaven by being good.” 100% true without Jesus. Or – as it seems to me – we can read it as, “My being good has nothing to do with getting into heaven, I’m just going to leave that to God.” And that’s a lie from Satan.

We spend all our days fighting what we know to be the truth. Or, we can just give in. We can admit that “going it my own way” is not at all the right way to go. We can admit that where the Church Makes Me Feel Uncomfortable is where I and not the Church must change or we can imagine this has nothing to do with “being good” and everything to do with good feelings.

But St John, the “Mystic” or the “Theologian” or the “Divine”, the Apostle whom Jesus loved, the one that has visions and talks about love all the time, says we have to be doing righteousness. We must be doing the right things. We have to do it. We have to not go looking for another Christ (an Antichrist) but rather the one we have. The one we have calls us to “be perfect as our Father is perfect”, to “Go your way and sin no more”. Being Christian does not give us a free pass out of hell, nor does it give us a free pass out of being Godly. Instead it demands the latter and threatens the former: and more for us than for those who have never heard the Gospel. 

Like Peter, God does not ask us what we want to be called, or how we want to identify: God tells us who we are. He who is our Maker knows the way things work.

We are not like those who do not have the Gospel, or who have a partial Gospel: we have been given Sacramental Grace, the teachings of the Church, the Liturgy, the Tradition, the Holy Scriptures, the Saints, the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, and the bodily and spiritual presence of God himself in the Holy Communion. We have been given Jerome, Giotto, Michelangelo, Da Vinci, Mozart, Vivaldi, Byrd, Taverner. We have been given the Blessed Mother, herself. To whom much is given, of that same much will be expected.

We are about being good (and failing at it) we are about being holy (and failing at it): the harder we push, the less we will fail – and that by God’s grace. 

Author: Huw Raphael

A Dominican Tertiary living in San Francisco, CA. He is almost 59. He feeds the homeless as a parochial almoner and is studying to be a Roman Catholic Deacon. He is learning modern Israeli Hebrew and enjoys cooking, keto, cats, long urban hikes, and SF Beer Week.

%d bloggers like this: