I find it interesting when friends tell me they don’t like the Catholic Church or this priest or that parish because they are “so judgmental.” They always seem to be pointing out things that we are doing wrong.
Can’t they just let us be?
And my reply: Sure, if they don’t really care about your soul.
Believe it or not, the Church’s primary job is to do all it can to prepare us for the Kingdom of God. Passing judgment on certain things, certain behaviors, is a crucial part of that.
We should want to be judged. We should want our Church to continue to raise the bar, no matter how hard it is for us to grasp it.
Some respond, “Well I don’t need to be judged, I just want to be respected for who I am!”
If you don’t feel the need to be judged, then perhaps you feel you are perfect. So why bother? Really … why bother with any of this religion stuff if you don’t think you need to be judged?
We are human. We are all prone to sinful behavior. We all need confession.
John the Baptist, whose Passion and Death we commemorate today in the Church calendar, understood this well. Back in the days leading up to his tragic beheading, he had verbally blasted King Herod over his unlawful divorce and marriage.
John had his ways. A true desert dweller with a sharp tongue and a pure heart, he had become a “rock star” in his time. People would travel from all over to hear him preach. He constantly told them: Make straight the path of the Lord. Confess your sins. Be prepared!
The Baptist’s ministry, which was rising to new heights just as Jesus’ ministry was set to begin, was to baptize those seeking to be closer to God, thus preparing them to know and love the man, Jesus, who would follow him.
John could have taken the easy way out. He could have turned his attention away from the scandal of the day. But … I supposed Thomas More could have done the same thing with Henry VIII. So many saints and martyrs … then and now.
But by standing up for what was right, John paid the ultimate price. You can read how that turned out in today’s Gospel.
Today is a day to reflect on how we should respond when we are asked some very important questions about our faith; about what we truly believe and about our society.
Keep an eye on the headlines and see that Christians are increasingly being put to the test across the globe. Christian martyrs are being born into new life every day, just for speaking the truth.
John the Baptist spoke the truth with courage. In the end, he paid the price for doing so.
Pray that when the time comes – and it will – that we are asked to testify on behalf of Christ and his Church – we will show the same courage.