21 October 2015

Religion vs. the Gospel?

One sees all manner of memes on the various social media, from the humorous to the lame to the ignorant. This morning I saw a meme that would fall under the category of the latter:

Shall we count the errors of this meme?
  1. At the very least, the meme suggests that all religion is bad, but that is not what the Sacred Scriptures say. We read in the Letter of James that "religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world" (James 1:27). The Catholic religion urges us, at the very least, to do each of these because, as the Lord Jesus himself said in the Gospel of Matthew, "Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me" (Matthew 25:40).
  2. The meme also implies that the Gospel does not say God will us if we change, yet the first out of the mouth of Jesus in the Gospel of Mark are these: "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the gospel" (Mark 1:14). What is more, in the Gospel of John, Jesus says, "You are my friends if you do what I command you" (John 15:14). As we have seen, one of his commands is to repent.
  3. The meme implies that religion does not say that God's love changes us, but that is simply a false claim. Religion teaches us that we change, that we repent, by God's grace, a gift of his love.
Christ Jesus did not come to do away with religion, for religion is the means by which man is bound to God. God gave a religion to the Israelites, a religion that Jesus has not done away with but fulfilled. Furthermore, he told the Apostles at the Last Supper in the Gospel of Luke to "do this in remembrance of me" (Luke 22:19); he entrusted a religious ceremony to them, thereby giving to them a religion.

The "fundamentalist" claims and sentiments expressed in this meme and those like it are popular, probably because they are simplistic. It is not, however, a question of either/or, but of both/and.

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