Sermons at solemn High Masses are preached by Fr. Dr. Franciszek Gomułczak, S.A.C. this year and serve as a form of retreat. We will publish them daily in the audio (in Polish) and text version (both PL and ENG, although sometimes they will be slightly different, because the Preacher sometimes decides to change the prepared text). Here is the first of them, entitled: „Let everyone ask: What is my Jesus like?”
Laudetur Jesus Christus!
Warmly greet you all, brothers and sisters! We are gathered here, on the „holy land,” the land of Mary the Sorrowful Queen of Poland, by the love for her Son and our Lord and Savior, and the desire for ever more perfect service to his sacred cause for which he gave life — for the salvation of souls. It was him who wanted us to come here and, penetrating the beauty of the holy liturgy, learn what should be the supreme act of our humanity: the adoration of God in the Holy Trinity. Let the ability to draw from the innumerable riches of the sacred liturgy remain in us, when we depart to the places of our work and ministry, so that we radiate to the world around us, internally transformed, and becoming his salt and light, as the Lord wants. The world today needs strong testimony that the resurrected Jesus is Lord for the glory of God the Father, and that no other name was given under heaven for people to be saved. I have the impression that this truth does not resound enough in the Church today. The need to emphasize, that the name Jesus means „the Lord saves”, may be stronger than ever in today’s world. In the newspeak present in the Church too, one can lose sight of who Jesus of Nazareth is: God from God, light from light, true God From true God, born and not created, co-existing with the Father, and through him everything happened.
I will use here the confidence of R. Brandtstaetter, our great Catholic writer who converted from Judaism in his mature age, today a little forgotten; read it. Here are his words: „For me the Christ of the Gospel is a threatening and demanding God. He is not a sweet small Jesus from nativity play, naïve, quite infantile, quite grotesque. He is a just, forgiving, but no less severe God, and getting into His punishing hands is not a childlike adventure. Christ on the pages of the Gospel and the Apocalypse is often the Jahvic Christ. Let’s recall his curses on Korozain, Bethsaida and Capernaum, his sevenfold woe, his wrath and anger, when he calls his apostle: You are Satan. Let’s recall Christ of the Apocalypse, that Christ-Word with a double-edged sword, coming to vengeance upon the nations. He is certainly a God of silent heart, but at the same time a God of great anger, he is a God of mercy and hard demands, a God of forgiveness and God of Grace, but at the same time a divine, demanding and „jealous” of man… Father of the Old Testament. He wants to make a man look his own image. He wants to make him holy. Not in a figurative but in the full sense of the word. Let us not stylize the evangelical text for the purposes of our opportunistic convenience. / … / Let us not make Christ an accomplice of our miserable desires.” (R. Brandstaetter, Jesus of Nazareth, Kraków 2012, Vol. 1, pp. 26 – 7).
If we lose such a picture of our Lord, we are threatened to fall into what Fr. Prof. Poradowski called „Jesusism” once. A man may „forget” that the Lord Jesus is one of the Persons of the Holy Trinity, that apart from Him, there is also the Father and the Holy Spirit. This is what happens when, at every occasion, the holy Name is declined by all case forms, and all relationships are relied upon. Perhaps the Lord, even if unconscious, may be cut off from His divinity and glory and brought back to the purely natural role, making Himself a kind of therapist and cheap miracle worker, giving immediate liberation from our pains, fears etc. And then it’s easy to put up Go on one shelf with Buddha or Mohammed. We should pay the attention of others to this ever more real danger of making the Gospel shorter and flattening the image of our Lord, putting him in the garment of pure naturalism.
Many today are tempted to proclaim the „easy Christ,” Christ who does not call sin a sin that requires nothing or requires little. When asked about difficult matters, demanding an unequivocal answer in the spirit of the Gospel, they manifest some kind of embarrassment or embarrassment. Do not you notice exposing Jesus of health, Jesus of success, Jesus of fulfillment, who appeared again on earth but without his Cross anymore? Even though Jesus does not exist without a cross. The cross is an attribute of his messianic glory, just like an empty grave. Jesus did wonders to show us who he is and that he IS. He thus manifested his authority to us over everything that exists, declared his power over death, over human weaknesses, and above all he showed his messianic mission and his Deity. He does not absolve us from carrying the cross, it makes us embrace him more and follow him. There is no point in following Him without a cross. Is Jesus not healing today? Of course. He is the same and forever. However, we must not overlook the content of St. John Paul II adhortation „Salvifici doloris”. It is an adhortation about the saving power of suffering. There is no Christianity without the Cross!
I notice in the Church’s body dangerous attempts of Catholics to „hew” the Christ’s cross, to get rid of those parts that are hurting, or to make it humanly burdensome. Many sons of the Church, lay and clerics today submit to the temptation to conform themselves to what the Gospel generally calls „the world” by explaining the supposed necessity of a skilful approach and not teasing the adversary in the name of an undefined „dialogue”, including meeting human sins with the so-called „Understanding”, which in practice may mean their slow affirmation. The very word „dialogue” has now undergone a total ideologization, becoming a meaningless buzzword. Did not Jesus conduct a dialogue? We have a beautiful example in the conversation with Nicodemus. Not every dialogue, however, is similar one. The Lord’s dialogue with the Jews on the threshold of the temple looks completely different. The Lord Jesus did not conduct empty talks, he forced and compelled even to clearly identify the listener, for or against Him; he is not a man; moreover, not a God of compromise! The truth does not compromise. He demands resolute preaching. But how to do it, if you are not ultimately convinced that Jesus is the Truth, that there is an objective truth, that he is anchored by God in Christ’s Church and that he has his splendor! Here lies the reason for this kind of „thawing” of many Catholics, clergy and laity! Dialogue is not an unproductive telling each other nice things; it is to present one’s argumentation to the partner, with all due respect for him, but with the purpose of convincing him to our arguments. Without this, dialogue becomes an empty talk and a waste of time or play in the illusion that we are doing something. Today, countless symposia, conferences, meetings … are being produced in the Church. Nothing follows them, and their participants believe that they have worked hard for the Lord.
Secondly, dialogue and proclaiming is something else. Dialogue can not in any way exclude or replace preaching. Lord Jesus did not tell us: „go and dialogue”, only „go and preach” … „In time and not in time”, St. Paul adds. Go and preach, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age … Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned … Do we tell to our neighbor today in a spirit of concern for his salvation that if he knowingly rejects the Gospel he will be condemned? Many will say that it is not fitting. And this is the teaching of the Church. Let us look at the Vaticanum II constitution „Lumen gentium”, p. 14: „Whosoever, therefore, knowing that the Catholic Church was made necessary by Christ, would refuse to enter or to remain in it, could not be saved”. Rather, efforts are made in this direction to „respect” the interlocutor, his beliefs, religions, etc., and we stop on this „respect” whatever it would mean. Where is teaching with power ?! Where is faith in the saving power of the Lord and His words? We are preaching the Gospel so that we can convert the audience. But if the „apostle” has doubts whether something „is fitting” or „is not fitting,” then who is Jesus Christ for him? The only Redeemer for sure? Are we still dealing with faith or ideology?
I read here and there about the episcopates of some Asian countries postulating the avoidance of converting dissenters and living among them and with them in the spirit of respecting their traditions. At that time I ask myself a question about why they converted themselves and why they did not stay with their legacy? The Gospel is no one’s property, and we must not enviously guard our own worries, fears, insecurities and perhaps lack of faith. The rules of this world do not correspond to the Gospel, therefore St. Paul does not tell us to follow its example, because under the guise of caring for the rules of this world, we will stop apostolating and replace them with a sea of slogans, empty words and newspeak. The Gospel carries the message of salvation. It is the crime to re-tune its melody to the melody of the „world”. It can become an inspiration only to fight for peace, social justice, equality, a call to fight with hunger, global warming and to segregate rubbish. Are these irrelevant matters? There are important in their own way. But Jesus did not come for these reasons. He came to redeem a man, bring him back to the Father in his dignity of a God’s child and give him as such to Father. And above all, we have to help him in this. What is my Jesus like? Let everyone ask this question and let them answer it. Let us not build and participate in the building of ecclesiastical newspeak, smooth and unproductive, avoiding clarity and unambiguity, seasoned with irenicism and naturalism.
Let us strive to read, listen to and meditate on the Word of God and discover the true Christ. Our Merciful Savior and Protector, the Lamb who gives himself whole to us, Friend and Brother, but also the Judge from the Sistine Chapel, the Lord of the future age. God from God, Light from Light. Living such a God will never bore us, and telling about Him will never tire the audience. Each and every one of us, departing from the Lord’s altar, must be sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s movements, to share all that we draw from the richness of the liturgical prayer of the Church, experiencing the presence of Golgoth again and again. „Ite missa est” means that it is our turn now. We are sent to be witnesses in Judea, Samaria and the end of the earth, witnesses of what is our experience of faith, that others may know and believe. This end of the earth does not necessarily have to have a geographical dimension. The end of the earth will be the heart of your brother, dried out of the lack of openness to Grace: lost, wounded, sometimes rebellious and hateful, doped by the spirit of this world, which must be faced with a whole load of truth and power that the Holy Spirit arm us with, in season and out of season. In order to do this, one must first let oneself be carried away by the Spirit to teach and instruct us. To be caught up by the Spirit is to agree that God’s idols of conformism, comfort, empty words, fitting to the rules imposed by the world, ostensible actions, would make a „polished arrow” of us. The helplessness and confusion in the Church today needs real knights of Christ, who knee only before Him and struggle for each knee to bend before Him. Otherwise, all our effort would lose any sense. It is not worth beating the air.