Going to hell for a German sausage.


 

My favourite depiction of Christ is Jesus Panocrator. It is famous for the difference in style between each side of His face. Many have said that this "split" in style is representative of His dual divine and human natures. 

If you use a mirror, you can see what each side would look like as a whole face. Somehow these "mirror" depictions do not look like Jesus at all. It seems that something is missing from both pictures. 
As I was looking at Jesus Panocrator yesterday, I realised that this piece of art perfectly illustrates what is going on in the body of Christ - the Church, at this point in history.
We are currently experiencing a huge division within the Catholic church. On the one hand we have mercy without orthodoxy. This was so clearly illustrated recently when 80 German Catholic Bishops blessed same sex unions across their country. We also see it in a pro abortion American president who is scandalously allowed to receive Holy Communion while signing the death warrant of millions of unborn babies. Another example would be the wishy washy preaching from the pulpit which focuses on climate change and refugees, rather than calling people to examine their own sinful lives and repenting of them. After all, it is much easier to challenge people to recycle and donate, than it is to challenge them to stop using artificial contraception and openly proclaim that marriage can only ever exist between one woman and one man. It is also disobedience, because you know better than the Church. At its heart, mercy without orthodoxy is simply pride. It lacks love.
On the other side we have orthodoxy without mercy. This looks like a long list of rules and tick boxes. It looks like constant criticisim. It looks like "being right". It looks like denying a child baptism because he has a single mother. It is remaining insular, rather than reaching out to people. It is scruples. At its worst it is obsessive compulsive disorder. It is a dry, loveless relationship with an angry God who terrifies you. It is an unhealthy constant fear of being sent to Hell. It is telling people they are going to Hell. It is calling people "whining pansies" from the pulpit rather than loving your enemies. It is turning your back on non Catholics. Curiously, it is also disobedience, because you know better than the Church. At its heart, orthodoxy without mercy is simply pride. It lacks love.
So which one is the real Jesus? The soft effeminate Jesus who allows you to remain in your sin and still go to Heaven? Or the harsh angry Jesus who sends you to Hell for all eternity because you forgot it was no meat Friday and you accidentally ate a sausage? 
Currently we have a Pope who's pontificate revolves around mercy without orthodoxy. This is why we now have 80 German Bishops blessing same sex unions. It has given rise to a reactionary movement within the Church that is justifiably angry about the current lack of orthodoxy. And now that this group is beginning to gain in popularity and publicity, it must be extremely careful not to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Don't let your anger destroy the Church. We need orthodoxy to keep us on track, and mercy to understand that we are hopelessly human. 
Together, I believe it is possible to move the Church forward to holiness without schism, and the only person who can carry the Church - the body of Christ, is the one who carried the body of Christ in her womb, and again after He was taken down from the cross: Mary.

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