Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Holy Lent. How long ago was that?
We may find ourselves thinking: I still haven’t really done squat for a Lenten sacrifice, and it’s almost over. [Spanish]
Okay. Holy Mother Church has an answer for you. She has carefully laid out the season of Lent in two phases. Phase One started on Ash Wednesday, and the people we admire got serious about it then. Phase Two starts right now. The final two weeks. Sunday a week is Palm Sunday, then Holy Week. Then Easter. Being serious about Lent for six weeks is great. Being serious for two weeks is better than not being serious at all.
The main thing to get serious about is, of course: Jesus. Jesus Himself.
He knew what awaited Him. Pilgrims came from afar to worship in Jerusalem at the Passover. They sought the Messiah of the Jews. Some of them wanted to see Jesus. He said: Okay, Yes, here I am. And you will see Me glorified. In death.
If we intend to get serious during these crucial final two weeks of Lent, let’s confront something–a kind of paradoxical problem we have with the “religion” of the contemporary world, “Tolerance of Diversity.”
We Catholics want to get along with everybody. Christians seek peaceful co-existence with the fellow man. We know we have a duty to deal justly, fairly, compassionately with everyone we encounter, regardless of their outward appearance and our shallow first impressions. We despise racism and bigotry of any kind. I mean, let’s look at the fact: the Catholic Church is the single largest, most genuinely diverse institution on the face of the earth.
And we Catholics love non-Catholic Christians and non-Christians, too. We know that religion involves the operation of the human conscience, not external force or compulsion. You can’t make someone love God. We propose the Gospel to all; we impose it on no one. To evangelize, we don’t need coercive power. We need humility, gentleness, joy, divine wisdom, and profound interior peace.
In all these ways we Catholics shine as splendid poster children for the great “Tolerance of Diversity Movement”—the hue and cry from the famous and the well-positioned of today: that we should embrace all the minorities, without discrimination or exploitation. Good Christians wrote the book on this, really. Except…
We Catholics embrace our humble mission of universal love for one reason: Jesus. Believing in Jesus and living in communion with Him makes you compassionate towards others, especially the “others” who look different, don’t fit in, have weaknesses, need advocates. Believing in Jesus, and living in communion with Him, lifts a Christian soul above racial antagonisms and small-minded prejudices, not to mention greed and selfishness at others’ expense. Christians don’t scapegoat people, or treat others as non-persons or second-class citizens—because Jesus didn’t do that and doesn’t do that. Arrogance, rudeness, cruelty—all of these things are obviously foreign to the Sacred Heart of Christ. Christians don’t say that there’s a master race, or a ruling class, or an exceptional nation, or a perfect language. We say we have one Master, the Christ.
But here is where things get tricky between us and the “Tolerance of Diversity Movement.” The idea of “diversity” is not our master. The idea of tolerance is not our master. Because if our own human ideas are our master, we will never have the genuine humility of Christ, Who came to the earth solely to do the will of the Father. If I serve anyone or anything other than the one, true God, then I will never have the genuine love for my neighbor that only Christ can put in my heart.
I become a true friend to the brother in need only by adhering totally to Jesus; only by living and breathing His Gospel; only by thoroughly educating my entire inner-self in the Christian mysteries. Catechesis, Mass, Confession, reading the Scriptures, praying daily the Church’s ancient prayers. You can’t become a real poster-child for Tolerance of Diversity by dabbling in religion, as if God were just another smartphone app. The true advocate of the vulnerable is precisely the Christian who stands ready to die as a martyr. Zeal for God’s Word makes you ten times more truly tolerant of minorities than anyone who has ever appeared on the Oscars.
Which is why the great celebrities of the Tolerance of Diversity Movement don’t love the most truly diverse institution on earth, the Roman Catholic Church. They hate Her with a passion. They regard zeal for God’s Word as a kind of mortal sin. They know that the Holy Scriptures make profound demands, that they outline the criteria for genuine moral judgments, that they demonstrate how we owe it to God to seek His truth.
To summarize. The Christian heart embraces all races. The Christian always strives to communicate across language barriers. The Christian soul rejoices in everything wholesomely delightful in every culture.
But when it comes to what we believe, what we base our lives on, what we know about right and wrong—we don’t celebrate diversity there. The realm of faith and morals involves the truth revealed by God. And the greatest act of love anyone could ever make–the act that most truly serves the interests of the weak and defenseless–is to propose the complete and challenging Gospel of the and one and only Christ of God, Jesus of Nazareth.