Questions Not for Cowans.


The Readings for the 8th Day before the Ides of January:

Si testimonium hominum accipimus, testimonium Dei majus est
If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater.

St John is writing to believers and not to the unbelieving. This argument that follows is of no import to those Outside the Church of St John. That’s important to understand. Much of John’s text (in the Gospel, in the Epistles, in the Apocalypse) is entirely meaningless to those outside of the Faith. This is as it should be. This is why John’s texts are so important after Christmas and Easter: they are for the initiated only; those who have decided to accept the teaching of the Church and are ready to go further up and further in.

We are, though initiated, all of us sinners, still. There are times when St John will sound to us as he does to the cowans, to use the technical term, the uninitiated, the Gentiles. But this one verse should call us back.

We accept the testimony of men, so God is greater.

It’s evident is it not? Even if we are pretending today (as we must all do, from time to time) just to get by as Catholics: you fake it til you make it. Even in that mode, it must be self-evident, if we believe in a “God” that his testimony must be greater than the testimony of men, right? We’re not talking about a “higher power” or anything like that.  We’re talking about the Creator of the Universe, visible and invisible, even if we have trouble today, believing in him, if he exists, his testimony must surely be greater than that of any man, right?

So, why – when it comes to Matters of Sex, of Maternity, of politics, and of morality, why in these and other cases are we all too willing to reach out to a man’s testimony that makes us feel better?

And we will even do that in our most “I’m Faithful to the Church’s teaching” phases.

So I’m wondering why. Half wondering, mind you, as I’m tempted to go off on either a judgement drive or else my own despair-driven sinfest. But when we hear someone whose teaching we like, because it comforts us in our sin, doesn’t ever give you pause, how much of God’s testimony you had to ignore to get there?

If you’ve found the one Catholic or Orthodox priest in your diocese who will support you in your sexual choices, why did you go looking for him? Because he says that God says something you like. Does it strike you as odd that the rest of the Church’s tradition (and people) should disagree with that priest? If you’re willing to listen to that one priest, why are you so certain all the others (in space and time) are wrong?

Why do we put the testimony of men before the testimony of God?

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.

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