Today, I would like to title this reflection, Food For Thought, and dedicate it to those cafeteria Catholics who have seen the full menu of a five star restaurant but have decided to buy al carte from the dollar menu at a fast food restaurant.
Brothers and sisters we have the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Yet, every year people decide somehow they know more than God as they pick and choose what to believe or not to believe. This is our free choice. Yet, it does bring up this question, just because we can do something does that make it right or does it even mean we should do it?
At this point you should ask yourself a few questions
Do you truly believe that Jesus established His Church on earth?
Do you believe that Jesus was the son of God?
Did Jesus establish many Churches or did he establish one Church?
If Jesus is the Christ, son of the living God, would he have established what is essentially become a franchise institution which allows a person to pick and choose what you want to believe? Would he let you choose a church that would actually allow you to believe ideas or concepts that were never taught by him here on earth?
No,No, No. This is not right, it is not scriptural and more importantly it was not the reason he came to earth. If this was the reason, why would he have come in the first place. Wasn’t this the reason why Jesus came, people we no longer followed the Law of God and instead began following the teachings of scribes and Pharisees.
This resulted in a great disarray. Today we are having the exact same problem. Many people believe that choice is good. However, choice is not good when it comes to following the teachings of Jesus. Many of us have heard of being a cafeteria Catholic and to them let me say this famous quote
“There's no one thing that's true. It's all true.”
? Ernest Hemingway, quote from For Whom the Bell Tolls
Pope John Paul II said:"It is sometimes reported that a large number of Catholics today do not adhere to the teaching of the Catholic Church on a number of questions, notably sexual and conjugal morality, divorce and remarriage. Some are reported as not accepting the clear position on abortion. It has to be noted that there is a tendency on the part of some Catholics to be selective in their adherence to the Church's moral teaching. It is sometimes claimed that dissent from the magisterium is totally compatible with being a 'good Catholic,' and poses no obstacle to the reception of the Sacraments. This is a grave error that challenges the teaching of the Bishops in the United States and elsewhere. "
If it is indeed all or nothing, why do we have such trouble accepting the whole truth and nothing but the truth?
To more fully understand this I would like to turn to the words of Winston Churchill.
Want of foresight, unwillingness to act when action would be simple and effective, lack of clear thinking, confusion of counsel until the emergency comes, until self-preservation strikes its jarring gong - these are the features which constitute the endless repetition of history.
If Churchill was correct then we should see some historical records or artifacts that proves his point in history and today we have two excellent readings that do exactly that.
First, we have a passage from Thessalonians where Paul writes to the people of that city and explains to them do not turn away from the truth, do not sell yourself, your family, your faith nor your destiny simply because some people here on earth may fool some people. By the exact same token, is this not what the cafeteria Catholics are doing when they decide to follow the dictates of men, not the laws established by God? Can a person be a true Christian but not live by the principles of their faith? Can a person truly believe in the Church but not practice that faith by following the principles of the Church? God gave Moses Ten Commandments-he did not not give 5,6, or 7. He gave the Jews escaping Egypt in the exodus, manna from heaven to eat. He did not give them a menu so they could choose their own food. It is absolutely essential to understand what Paul is saying here and we apply this in our everyday life.
2 Thessalonians Chapter 2 1-12
1 About the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, brothers, and our being gathered to him:
2 please do not be too easily thrown into confusion or alarmed by any manifestation of the Spirit or any statement or any letter claiming to come from us, suggesting that the Day of the Lord has already arrived.
3 Never let anyone deceive you in any way. It cannot happen until the Great Revolt has taken place and there has appeared the wicked One, the lost One,
4 the Enemy, who raises himself above every so-called God or object of worship to enthrone himself in God's sanctuary and flaunts the claim that he is God.
5 Surely you remember my telling you about this when I was with you?
6 And you know, too, what is still holding him back from appearing before his appointed time.
7 The mystery of wickedness is already at work, but let him who is restraining it once be removed,
8 and the wicked One will appear openly. The Lord will destroy him with the breath of his mouth and will annihilate him with his glorious appearance at his coming.
9 But the coming of the wicked One will be marked by Satan being at work in all kinds of counterfeit miracles and signs and wonders,
10 and every wicked deception aimed at those who are on the way to destruction because they would not accept the love of the truth and so be saved.
11 And therefore God sends on them a power that deludes people so that they believe what is false,
12 and so that those who do not believe the truth and take their pleasure in wickedness may all be condemned.
Second, what are we here for on earth? Many people get so wrapped up in the earth, this time, and this space that they forget that we are spiritual beings with a physical body. Are we have to accumulate riches in this world or secure our place in the next? When we pass on from this earth to the next our spirit is eternal, the same spirit that was with us here is with us there. What good would it do us to be wealthy on this earth and be punished in the next? Money only works here on earth, you can not take it with you nor do you really want to do this. Our life here should be to help others, bring people to the Gospel and to life here so that we are rewarded in the hereafter.
13 A man in the crowd said to him, 'Master, tell my brother to give me a share of our inheritance.'
14 He said to him, 'My friend, who appointed me your judge, or the arbitrator of your claims?'
15 Then he said to them, 'Watch, and be on your guard against avarice of any kind, for life does not consist in possessions, even when someone has more than he needs.'
16 Then he told them a parable, 'There was once a rich man who, having had a good harvest from his land,
17 thought to himself, "What am I to do? I have not enough room to store my crops."
18 Then he said, "This is what I will do: I will pull down my barns and build bigger ones, and store all my grain and my goods in them,
19 and I will say to my soul: My soul, you have plenty of good things laid by for many years to come; take things easy, eat, drink, have a good time."
20 But God said to him, "Fool! This very night the demand will be made for your soul; and this hoard of yours, whose will it be then?"
21 So it is when someone stores up treasure for himself instead of becoming rich in the sight of God.'
Brothers and sisters, what are you doing with your life? Are you living your life to the fullest here or are you living your life here to have the fullest life in the hereafter? These are not the same types of life. You must heed the writings of the Church Leaders both then and now.
In conclusion, Winston Churchill also said, “Most wars in history have been avoided simply by postponing them.” Are we simply avoiding our future because of how we have lived our past and present? Are we simply trying to take this world with us when we leave? Brothers and sisters, we leave this world one day and when we do, are we preparing ourselves for the splendors, sights and sounds of a wedding feast or hunger pains, a life rewarded by being a cafeteria Catholic? Choose wisely, my friends, your future depends on it and so does the future of this earth. Amen