Dissuade the Wicked

Fr. Phil Bloom

Twenty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time,
September 4, 2011

Bottom line: You and I – by the way we live – are called to be watchmen: to help others turn from destruction and turn toward the one source of hope, Jesus the Savior of humanity.

This weekend we have some difficult readings. The prophet Ezekiel tells us that if we do not dissuade a wicked man from his way, we will be held responsible. Similarly Jesus speaks about fraternal correction: A daunting task, particularly when a person considers his own sins, his own need for correction.

St. Francis addressed this issue. A man approached him and said, “Brother Francis, I am in a quandary. In the Bible it says we should rebuke sinners, but I see people sinning all the time. I don’t feel like I should go around rebuking everybody.”

St. Francis thought and then said, “What you must do is live in such a way that your life rebukes the sinner – how you act will call others to repentance.”

You might be thinking, “That’s easy enough for St. Francis, but I am not saint.” Well, it may not be so complicated as you imagine. Once a man went into a restaurant and the waitress placed him at a table next to three girls. They were talking loud and swearing. It sometimes seems like women’s equality means imitating the worst in men. The man wanted to say something, but he held his tongue. When his breakfast arrived, he bowed his head and made of the sign of the cross. The swearing stopped.

I think you see what I am saying. We do not need to go around constantly correcting others, but we do need to be watchmen. We will in some way be held responsible if we see others falling into destruction and we do nothing.

Pope Benedict gave a good example when he went to Madrid for World Youth Day. He began by addressing the situation in our world. He mentioned:

“tensions and ongoing conflicts”
“lack of respect for nature and environment, created by God”
“young people (who) look worriedly to the future, as they search for work, or because they have lost their job or because the one they have is precarious or uncertain”
“young people…who need help either to avoid drugs or to recover from their use”

Then he added: “There are even some who, because of their faith in Christ, suffer discrimination which leads to contempt and persecution, open or hidden, which they endure in various regions and countries. They are harassed to give him up, depriving them of the signs of his presence in public life, not allowing even the mention of his holy name.”

In the context of a world growing dark, Pope Benedict addressed the central issue of our day: “the culture of relativism.” On the surface relativism seems nice. You have your opinion and I’ve got mine, so let’s agree to disagree. And for sure we do not desire to impose our views on others. The problem, however, as Pope Benedict points out, is that the culture of relativism “has given up on the search for truth.” Those who are loudest wind up imposing their viewpoint on the rest of us.* In the face of this culture of relativism Pope Benedict said:

“We need to speak with courage and humility of the universal significance of Christ as the Saviour of humanity and the source of hope for our lives.”

Pope Benedict is the watchman for our times. The news media were befuddled that two million young people would make great sacrifices in order to listen to an eighty-four-year-old man. But they did not seek a man; they sought Christ. The pope is a watchman, pointing others to Christ.

You and I – by the way we live – are called to be watchmen: to help others turn from destruction and turn toward the one source of hope, Jesus the Savior of humanity. Amen


A Digest of Articles from Catholic Blogs and Websites
September 4, 2011

Looking for Trouble!
I used to think that God’s law was like those dumb rules we have to put up with in grammar school, like “Thou shalt not chew gum in class.” They are arbitrary laws that some bureaucrats came up with to keep them happy and the rest of us miserable. The goal of the student is to break such rules whenever they can get away with it. The only bad consequence would be to get caught.

Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time
Our Gospel today is taken from a section of St Matthew’s Gospel in which he considers forgiveness in the community and how to deal with sinners. Today our text examines how to deal with a brother who has sinned and next week we consider Peter’s question about how many times he should forgive his brother.

Am I obliged to correct my brother who sins?
23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Matthew 18:15-20

Jesus said to his disciples: “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone.”

In this Sunday’s Gospel, according to the lectionary of the forma ordinaria, our Savior indicates the three escalating levels of fraternal correction. First, we are to correct the sinner privately. Then, if he refuses to listen, we bring one or two others. Finally, if necessary, the sinner must be brought to the Church. If he refuses even the correction of the Church, and if the matter is serious, he is to be excommunicated – for this is what our Lord means when he tells us, And if he will not hear the church, let him be to thee as the heathen and publican (Matthew 18:17).

Questioning the Questioners: Why Do You Not Honor Mary in Accordance With Scripture?
Most of us who are Catholics eventually get asked, “Why do you Catholics worship Mary?” More often than not the question is not a real question it is a rhetorical question. A “rhetorical question,” is a “question” whose purpose is not to seek an answer, but, rather, to make a (usually hostile) point. For example the expression “Who do you think you are!?” is in the form of a question but it does not seek an answer. Instead it is meant as a rebuke. And so it usually is when we Catholics get asked the “question” Why do you worship Mary?” we’re usually aware that it is not a sincere question seeking a sincere answer. However, for those cases where an answer really is sought I might propose the following approach:

Do you know the covenants of the Bible? (and How Christ fulfills the Covenants)
Mastery of the Holy Bible can be very difficult to achieve. It takes prayer, study, and constant reading and re-reading – not to mention an intimate familiarity the teachings of the Church Fathers. However, one can quickly acquire an “outline” of salvation by history by learning the basic covenants of Scripture. The covenants provide the structure for the unfolding of God’s plan. Ultimately all things are fulfilled in Christ in the New Covenant. Here is how it works:

Magisterium Part 3: Infallibility
If there is any dogma that sticks in the craw of non-Catholics, it is the dogma of Papal Infallibility. “How,” ask many, “can Catholics actually believe that any human being be incapable of error?”

Jesus Was was no “Girlie-man.” On Restoring a Truer Vision of the Biblical Jesus from the 20th Century Remake
When I was a teenager in the 1970s Jesus was presented in less than flattering terms, at least from my standpoint as a young man at that time. The paintings and statues of that day presented Jesus as a rather thin, willow-wisp of a man, a sort of friendly but effeminate hippie, a kind of girlyman, who went about blessing poor people and healing the sick. It is true he did that but usually left out of the portraits was the Jesus who summoned people to obedience and an uncompromising discipleship, the Jesus who powerfully rebuked his foes.

Council of Jerusalem
A question arose yesterday in a thread, posed by Michael:

I have a real question. Homosexuality, as a sin an abomination, is mentioned in Leviticus. That book, however, also says:

– disrespect of parents should be punishable by death
– sleeping with a woman during her period should make both parties outcasts
– don’t eat pork
– shellfish are an abomination

So my question is, why are some of the verses ignored and others so important?

Preparing Your Family for a Faith-Filled School Year
As we watch the days grow shorter and even a bit cooler, we parents find ourselves preparing ourselves and our children for another school year. There’s something exciting about the potential for another year of learning, of friendship and of spiritual growth that transcends age and inspires even us “grown ups” with loved ones heading back to school.

Do you need a break from life’s daily grind? Turn to Jesus in The Anima Christi (Latin for “Soul of Christ”), a prayer inviting us to ask our Lord for comfort, strength, and guidance. It offers us a chance to meditate on His Passion and pray for His help to gain Eternal Life. The Anima Christi is profoundly Christ-centered. Is there any wonder that it is often recited after communion?

The Great Transaction
In the church today there is a heresy that doesn’t yet have a name–or perhaps it does and I have not learned it yet. It goes like this: “Mankind is in search of meaning. In every person there is a God-shaped space. By looking within, by searching for one’s own heart desire, we will eventually find meaning. We will have an encounter with Christ. We will realize that the Christian way is the true way. Then we will walk in this way with peace, joy and a fulfilled life.” Let’s for the want of a better term call this heresy ‘personalism’–or perhaps it could be called “existentialist fideism” inasmuch as it calls for a kind of faith in one’s own inner ‘vision’ or ‘desire’.

Answering Seventh Day Adventism
There are two major distinctive claims of Seventh Day Adventism, which separate it from the rest of Christianity:

1. First, that Christians are supposed to keep Saturday, the Sabbath, holy. They oppose worshiping on Sunday, arguing that it’s against the Ten Commandments and generally anti-Scriptural.

2. Second, that the founder of Seventh Day Adventism, Ellen G. White, was a prophet. …more

The Question of Prayer: Why Should I Pray?
The French essayist Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592) was a cat fancier and is known to have a kitten named Blanche. Among Montaigne’s contributions to literature were a number of observations about cats—such as no matter how much they fight, there always seem to be plenty of kittens.

The Paratrooper Padre
In the book, “Look Out Below! A Story of the Airborne by a Paratrooper Padre” Fr. Francis L. Sampson writes about his experiences serving as a U.S. Army Chaplain during both WW2 and the Korean War and even visited troops in Vietnam after his military retirement. Fr. Sampson was a member of the 101st Airborne Division during WW2 and parachuted into Normandy on D-Day with the Allied invasion force and later spent 6 months in a German Prisoner of War Camp.

How to show that Catholicism is the genuine form of Christianity (Hint: Miracles)
How do you show your family and friends that Catholicism is the authentic version of Christianity? Obviously you don’t want to beat them over the head or get into a argument over doctrines. A debate over the ins-and-outs of transubstantiation usually doesn’t go very far at a cocktail party.

So what is a quick and simple way to discuss the merits of Catholicism?

Novena for the Unemployed
Novena to Saint Cajetan – Patron Saint of the Unemployed, Job Seekers

Cajetan was ordained priest in 1516. He left the papal court and dedicated himself entirely to the service of the Lord. With his own hands he cared for the sick. Such zeal did he show for the salvation of his fellowmen that he was surnamed the “huntsman for souls.”

Novenas for Every Month of the Year
Novenas are very popular and traditional methods of Catholic prayer. Novena is derived from the Latin “novem”, meaning nine. A novena is when a series of private or public prayer to obtain special graces, to implore special favors, or to make special petitions. The prayers are given for nine days straight for the special intention. The novena is offered as a sacrifice to God. God sees a novena as a sign of devotion especially when the person saying the novena asks for a specific reason. There are many novenas to choose from to different saints.

New Beginnings
Thomas Edison was a prolific inventor. He invented over 1,000 things, but he is best known for inventing the incandescent light bulb, the phonograph, the microphone, the storage battery and talking movies.

Stained Glass and the Book of Revelation
Most Catholics are unaware of how our traditional church buildings are based on designs given by God himself. Designs that stretch all the way back to Mount Sinai when God set forth the design for the sanctuary in the desert and the tent of meeting.

Most Studies Show Abortion Linked To Increased Mental Health Problems
Women who have abortions are 81 percent more likely to experience subsequent mental health problems, according to a new study published by Britain’s Royal College of Psychiatrists. The greatest increases were seen in relation to suicidal behaviors and substance abuse.

Myth Buster: Constantine Founded the Catholic Church
The Catholic Church claims that she was founded by Christ. Some Evangelicals and fundamentalists claim that she was founded by the emperor Constantine (c.272-337).

The idea for this post came from a friend of mine, and funny as it may be, I first thought that this was a rather lame myth (still do).

“Who thought that?” I asked myself. I mean, come on, really, St. Ignatius of Antioch was calling the Church Christ founded the “Catholic Church” in the first century and there is evidence that this verbiage was a unique identifier of the Church all the way back to the mid first century.

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