How Christ is different
from all other so called Moral Reformers
By Rev Fr Mary Francis J. Dougherty O.C.S.O.
It used to be when anyone wanted to justify a new Church or a new moral
position he invoked the words of Christ. Today when anyone wishes to justify
revolution, burnings, assault, and license, he also appeals to the same
authority. As Shakespeare wrote: "What dammed error, but some sober brow
will bless it and approve it with a text."
It is true that our Blessed Lord did many things "the angry young men" seem to be doing today. He challenged the authority and the morals of those who should have been models of virtue. He ruthlessly exposed the hypocrisy of those who, like whitened sepulchres on the hillside of Jerusalem, were clean
on the outside, and were filled with dead men's bones on the inside.
His behaviour and the company that He kept were so unconventional that the purists could charge "He eats with publicans and sinners." But there were two things that made Him different from the angry young men of today. Throughout all of His impatience with ruts and grooves and old fashioned patterns, He never once conceded an iota to the morals of the young people who surrounded Him or to the strange company He kept. Never did He defend stealing for the sake of the publicans, unchastity for the sake of the adulterers, want of respect for the law and the prophets which He came to perfect out of contempt for the Pharisees, never was there a denial of the spiritual because He walked with Pharisees. Unlike the angry young men of the new breed of today, that would break down morals, He could say, "Which of you shall convince Me of sin?" His voice was clear and limpid, not roughened by the satieties of pleasure, or by the hoarseness of protest. He authorized no carrying of banners, no shouting, no exhibitionism. He moved so silent, the Scripture had foretold, that His voice was not heard in the streets. The point is that He was anything but a destructive critic, for He confirmed over and over again that not an iota of His Divine Law should be changed. This was His first difference with the angry young men who would scrap the heritage of Divine Truth which has been sent collect to our minds and hearts.
The second difference was that He died for those whom He accused. The new breed can be, as well as the old breed can be, critical of convention because it costs little in the way of suffering, but when Our Lord played the role of the iconoclast, He paid for it. When He pointed out the disease, He took the disease: "He bore our infirmities."
This is the difference between the angry young men and the Angry Young Man, and between many of us who criticize the failures, the hypocrisy, the vanity of the Church and do nothing to suffer for it.
As the religion of self examination declines, the possibility of real leadership against evil also declines. Religion today has failed in this for its primary purpose was once the cultivation of the inner life as a condition of reforming others.
Few are the teachers who remind the young to be sure they are just on the inside before they are just on the outside. How can we develop leadership, if religion abdicates its mission of uprooting evil from the heart. Evil is in the center, in the core of one's being; in the heart.
Until the Church gets back to the Cross, to the training of the will, to the revival of discipline, to the looking into the heart of the protestor, the nation will have an abortion rather than a rebirth.