Tag: Jesus

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Do Catholics Make Christianity Too Difficult?

A common complaint against Catholicism is that its view of the spiritual life is too difficult, that it over-complicates Christianity and doesn’t trust enough in the finished work of Christ on the Cross. That’s an appealing complaint, since it proposes a lighter, easier Christianity. But it’s a view we should be extremely suspicious of, given everything else we know about reality. So here are six observations that I think have some bearing on how we think of salvation specifically and the spiritual life more generally:

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(Why You Can’t Have) Jesus Without the Church

Head of Saint John the Baptist (17th c.)
Contemporary Christianity is fond of pushing Jesus without the Church. Like its secular counterpart (in which people claim to be "spiritual, but not religious"), it's an attempt to have the relationship without the rules. If I'm lonely or going through a tragedy, I can pray, but I don't have to worry about fasting when I don't want to, or being associated with a bunch of fellow believers that I look down upon. But Jesus-without-the-Church is a rejection of Jesus.

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3 Surprising Lessons from Jesus’ Weirdest Parable

Hieronymus Bosch, Death and the Miser (detail) (1490)
The weirdest and most troubling of Jesus' parables is almost certainly the parable of the dishonest manager in Luke 16, in which Jesus presents a parable of a manager who, upon being fired, exploits his position to cut deals with his master's clients so that he can try to leverage this into a job with them. Rather than being justly furious, the master *praises him* for his ingenuity. What on earth is going on? Three things to keep in mind with this parable.

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What if the Protestant Interpretation of John 6 is Correct?

"And he said unto them, The Sabbath was made for man, And not man for the Sabbath." Mark, II, 27.
Let’s talk about the Bread of Life discourse in John 6:22-70. The Catholic interpretation makes sense, but it's a shocking one. We think that this lengthy passage is about the Eucharist, and that Jesus Christ literally means that we eat His Flesh and drink His Blood in Communion. This teaching, radical to twenty first-century ears, was no less radical to first-century ears, and even many of Jesus’ own disciples stopped following Him upon hearing it. Protestants typically disagree with this interpretation, arguing that Jesus’ commands that we should eat His Flesh and drink His Blood are just metaphors. Often, both sides are so busy debating the credibility of the Catholic interpretation that neither stop to seriously ask, “Does the Protestant interpretation make any sense?” The obvious question is if Jesus is speaking metaphorically, what’s it a metaphor for? What is Jesus actually saying?

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The Incomprehensible Love of the Holy Trinity

Vicente Requena, Holy Trinity (16th c.)
This Sunday is Trinity Sunday. Do you know what’s a good analogy for the Trinity? Nothing. God is so far beyond our ability to comprehend Him, much less to express His inner nature in human speech, that all of our attempts to do so fall miserably short. Worse, it's easy to fall into heresy and idolatry. But these are no excuses for ignoring the life-changing reality of the Holy Trinity.

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