Dear Editor: A letter (Dec. 3) illustrates common ignorance regarding the meaning of “law” in Sacred Scripture. There is no other way to think of the practice of denigrating God-given moral principles as though it is on the same level of “rules” given to children other than its being rather shallow. “If you don’t do your homework, no ice cream for desert,” is not the same as a natural-law Catholic principle that says if you regard God’s weakest and most afflicted lives as sub-human and subject to having their lives terminated, you are committing an objective grave evil.
The Catholic religion does not have “rules.” It has natural-law principles of moral truth that invite our sinful nature to holiness. God binds us to the truth about ourselves and even God, Who has no capacity for evil, cannot violate natural law.
There are truthful laws and false laws, but it is impossible to be rigid about truthful laws. We can be sanctimonious in condemnations that presume consciously evil intentionality among those who do objective wrong, but sanctimony also applies to assuming evil in those who are deemed rigid but who merely remind us that we are bound to forming our hearts and minds for the valuing and reception of moral truth.
It is absurdly wrong to say Jesus called anyone a hypocrite for being bound to the laws of moral truth, laws that He never denied but in fact emphasized and expanded upon against prevailing moral weakness. Jesus condemned not only adultery, but lustful thoughts. What He also condemned is treating inauthentic cultural accretions as law and as equal to the moral law which comes only from God.
The woman caught in adultery saw her would-be executioners shamed into showing mercy. In a flash their own sinful self-righteousness was exposed to them. As the mob dispersed, Jesus turned tenderly to the woman herself and gave her forgiveness. At that moment she didn’t need to be reminded that she had done wrong. She only needed to be told gently that she must try to lead a good life thereafter.
The Good Samaritan was bound and acting upon the truthful moral law that obliges us to ministrations towards the wounded in violation of the false cultural law of his day that had contempt for different tribal societies. A hypocrite is not one who values morality; it is one who treats conventional practices as more important than morality.
What drives the young away from the Church are confused and phony presentations of half-truths, even when sourced from the highest ecclesial authority, about the nature of God. We owe them better than a stone when they ask for bread.
FATHER MARIK KACZMARSKI