Friday, February 23, 2018

Lentblogging Day 11 - Shoving Jesus Out of the Way to Proclaim the Truth!

"So if you are offering your gift at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift." Matthew 5:23-24 (RSV).

Nothing gets between you and God like a grudge. 

Especially those grudges where we know we are right and the other person is wrong. And, worst of all, are grudges held against people on behalf of those we love. No, not worst of all. There is yet something worse, more diabolical, to which the Bear will come.

The Bear finds that it is hard, but not impossible, to admit he was in the wrong and apologize. He probably doesn't need to go on about humility and forgiveness in such situations.

As the Bear learned during his first Lent, however, the Devil never tires of setting traps and is often more clever than that. In fact, you can almost count on running into very cunning ones the very next day after you have made progress. (The Bear says "you made progress," but, of course, we know that the grace of God is necessary for any progress, and we fail unaided.)

The juiciest bait of all is: "But, I'm right!"

Maybe you are right and maybe you're not. It doesn't really make any difference. In fact, you're better off it the trap is baited with a wrong opinion. At least there is always the chance you might realize you are wrong.

But, when you're right, it is scarcely possible for any of us to forgive and forget.

Sometimes, we are never so morally wrong than when we are objectively right. That seems like some Bear attempt at Chestertonian paradox, but it is just the plain truth. We may forgive seventy-times seven when we are injured, but let our spouse, or our child be hurt, and, like Vito Corleone in The Godfather, "that I do not forgive." We even take pride in our lack of forgiveness, because it is for another.

Here is the most diabolical trap of all.

Often, we are challenged by situations in our faith. We have good reasons to think we are in the right and others are in the wrong, these days. Some of our leaders seem foolish, at best. We imagine we can easily detect the venal motives behind their wrongs. 

The truth! Ah, that is the most powerful kind of in-the-right bait there is. The Bear does not want to sound holier-than-thou, because he knows he is not, and so do his readers. But, he's just throwing this out there: can't we try to leave aside controversies involving personalities until after Lent?

It is true. The news never stops. It's a big world and today we have the means to know just about all the news there is. Plus, we can add a thousand commentaries to every bit of it. It is true, also, that far fewer people wish to read about Lent than a juicy controversy. It's just the way we are; how we have been conditioned by blogs and social media. But, this is how it has always been, too, although outlets were far more limited in the past. Louella Parsons and Hedda Hopper were hugely popular - and powerful - Hollywood gossip columnists back in the day.

Give the Bear a funny hat and he can out-snark Hedda Hopper in her heyday any day of the week.

One of the things a blogger can give up for Lent is traffic. It's easy. Just stop writing about scandal and concentrate on areas of broad Christian agreement.

Don't take this as an accusation of any sort, like, bloggers only care about traffic. No, the Bear believes bloggers care about the truth. Traffic, is, however, a fact of life and the Bear has noticed, whether anyone else has or not, that controversial posts perform four times better or more than something like the last post about how your brain assists in building good habits, which, for the Bear, at least, is a lot better to know about than the latest brouhaha at the Vatican.

The Bear can write better headlines than his last piece. He expects arguments like, "That's impossible, because, Jesus is the truth!" It gets back to being right, but wrong. It is a hard saying. The Bear doesn't expect everyone to agree with him.

Even though, by golly, he's right!


  1. "Concentrate on areas of broad Christian agreement." Pray tell us.

    That's the problem. What was broad agreement is no more. I know your intent and I wish to accept the challenge but I also wish to stand with Christ. I will not stand before him and have no excuse for not doing so. I wish the corrupt steward was not in charge.

  2. It’s really very practical, as is most Bear Lenten advice. Treat Lent differently. Avoid scandal as much as you can to tend to the bedrock Christianity of your own soul.

    There are broad areas of agreement. Prayer. Fasting. Alms. Reading Scripture. Service. Practicing the requirements of your religion. Making sure you are fixing whatever problem there is with the foundation of your own Tower of Lent.

    Maybe arguments over a footnote to Amorous Laetita are vital, or some comment by the Pope. Are they such an emergency that we cannot afford to attend to our own personal spiritual growrh for 40 days without controversy? I guarantee Holy Week will be thrown up for grabs over some political theater over foot washing. Who says we have to care? Or, at leadt care the?

    Will the political theater be wrong and you right? If history is s guide, yes. Yet what a sterile kind of “right.”

    The Bear believes anyone who doubts there is such a thing as bedrock Christianity to live in your life should take a look at the Benedictine way.

  3. This is wisdom to carry out even beyond Lent. There is a time and place for everything under the sun...but it is always the time to love & revere the triune God in remembering the offering of Jesus in the most holy sacrifice of the Mass.
    Be as holy and reverent whatever circumstance you are in...fear not. This is what i hear Bear saying in a much more sophisticated way..and so much more. With God's guidence, be the one who stands for the Truth.

    1. I think it is in The Imitation of Christ: I would rather feel contrition than know the definition.

      131 [130] O Lord, my heart is not lifted up,
      my eyes are not raised too high;
      I do not occupy myself with things
      too great and too marvelous for me.
      2 But I have calmed and quieted my soul,
      like a child quieted at its mother’s breast;
      like a child that is quieted is my soul.
      3 O Israel, hope in the Lord
      from this time forth and for evermore.

      Bear will not belabor the point. But, you said it well, Nancy. To everything there is a season.


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