To Be Or Not To Be–One.

Good Relationships

I think I am going to flop on this one.  I have been writing this blog for a while now and have liked to have the answers to tough questions on a lot of things.  I started writing this about the time that I was received into the Catholic Church and when I was also about to begin my Masters in Social Work program.  Between the two I at least have some good guesses.  When I began this season of writing on the Sermon on The Mount I was hoping to have at least good guesses and on the following hot potato I will approach the heart of it by the grace of God.

 “It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I say to you that anyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of unchastity, causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery” (Matthew 5:31-32).

First I will tell you where I come from on the issue.  I have three wonderful kids ages 22,20 and 18 from a first marriage.  I also have three kids from my second marriage ages 5,4, and nearly one.  In the event that any of my older kids have finally got around to reading my blogs, you may want to skip this because I want the best for your mental and emotional health.

More specifically, I did not want my first marriage to end.  She left me for another man though she claimed to be a Christian like me but denied that we had a covenant in the first place.  I should mention that my first children were 5,3, and less than a year then.   In the first months of separation I was told my my non-denominational pastor that I could be assured that the local churches in the area contacted each other when the first spouse is in the area and there is an attempt at remarriage.  That gave me peace that there would be accountability to her to repent and keep our family together. I must admit that I thought it would be great for her to be referred to a Justice Of The Peace rather than the appearance that her doing what seemed to be clearly adultery was okay.

I thought wrong on this since she courted her future husband in her mega church, got pregnant and then married in that order.  So there I was after two years of standing for the marriage until about the time she got pregnant and asking God where my justice was.

I may not have found justice as I wanted but in my church I got was seemed to be understanding.  The leadership clearly told me based on their and my interpretation of the scriptures that by her unfaithfulness a true covenant was vacated and I was no longer accountable to its condition of lifelong commitment.  This was a relief and a comfort to me overall as I spent the next several years as a non-custodial, single dad needing to scrape by with whatever pittance of court approved visitation time I could get.  I also received less than mercy from my pastors when I decided to fight for more flexible visitation when I wanted to go to school to better my household such as it was.

But along came Summer.  She was a single woman that saw me and loved me warts and all.  All that mattered to her and her family was that according to common Protestant teaching I was released from my prior covenant.  What was good on my end was that we were mutually able to size each other up both doctrinally and practically as people that meant the words, “I do” in all its commitment.  We were married after I had been single for nine years and went on to be married now over eight years.  All very simple or so I thought.

Along came 2012 when I was exposed to an entirely different interpretation of divorce and remarriage.  After praying for months based on a discernment of that there was something greatly missing in my Christian life and doctrine, I was drawn by the Holy Spirit through the context of a self-imposed rigorous study of the Bible and history to darken the door of a Catholic parish.  It was an exciting time as several questions I had over the last several years were clicking into place.  I took communion my first visit now knowing yet that I would need to be a Catholic first.  Yet when I took it I was keenly aware of angelic presence in the room and mor importantly the power of the Holy Spirit.  Little did I know that soon I would hit a doctrine and practice hiccup.

When I met with the director of the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults, the form I had to fill out included prior marriages and if it had been annulled.  I naturally declared what I thought was a no brainer, “But my ex-wife committed adultery.”   I was informed then that the default assumption of the Catholic Church was that any marriage was presumed a valid covenant and binding until one of the spouses dies or a declaration of nullity— annulment.

I was pretty stressed about this until I shared with the local priest that my ex-wife was a baptized Catholic and I married her without the dispensation of a bishop.  He told me I was in luck and that the marriage was not presumed sacramental due to a lack of form.  Due to that I was now on the fun loop of a messy roller coaster.  I was received into the Catholic Church a few months later and my marriage was re-officiated by that same priest.

But I was left with some lingering questions from that experience as well as some close friend’s experience with some being challenges to Catholics and some to Protestants.

1: So would Catholics tell me in 1997 that my ex-wife leaving me for another man was okay? If she was a practicing Catholic she would have been counseled by a priest to stay in the marriage and pray for unity.

2: For Protestants that think people should be left to their own conscience, what about frivolous divorces? Based on looking at the scriptures, even where it is not comfortable to my sensibilities, the counsel of God is that if you had a valid marriage and divorce then you must remain celibate until death do you part.  What about if the spouse leaves you, marries and has kids with someone else?  A covenant is a covenant.

3:  For Protestants that would kick this to a local church decision, there is a hole in that.  A spouse that wants to initiate a divorce could cry out a story that favors cultural sensibilities and is not factual with no standard for any investigation. They can even go church shopping until someone accepts their story that may or may not be factual.

4:  What about a Protestant couple that had their marriage blessed in a Protestant church with no ill intentions and were true to the conscience that God gave them.  After that, one or both of them wants to be Catholic but a prior marriage does not qualify for annulment.  At the same time, a married Baptist pastor is recognized for his ordination and can be a priest if he converts.  Why a recognition on the latter’s ordination under Protestant judgment in good conscience but not on the marriage? The different is that the baptist congregation that loses their pastor to the Catholic Church may be mad that he changed, but should and will get over it.  But if there was a valid covenant and one violates the faithfulness for it then God does not get over it and likely not the first spouse.  They key is consistency.

5: Can the Catholic Church return to what it did on this in the first several centuries of Church history?  The penitent brought it to confession and they got a clean slate over a mess that is so nuanced.– This is tempting since we know Jesus is forgiving and knew what he was doing when he founded the sacrament of reconciliation in john 20.  But he also said, “Go and sin no more.”

6: Who is to say that an annulment tribunal will always get it right? Can we say any local tribunal is infallible in viewing the validity of a marriage from a spiritual and practical perspective?– On that I am not sure.  I have heard of some shiftiness when someone wants a rubber stamp on a questionable annulment petition.  But I have seen enough Christians make up their own minds about what they “feel” is right about divorce and remarriage and often.

7: Would things in The Church fall apart if there was more flexibility?  Going back to my reference about the first centuries of Church history, they did not fall apart despite much more flexibility in this issue.— Even if it could be argued that it was permissible, is it beneficial?  The point is erring on the safe side that “the marriage bed is kept holy by all” (Hebrews 13:4).

So there you have it.  There are struggles.  I also have hopes due to the fresh perspectives that Pope Francis has expressed on other subjects.  Perhaps a more efficient annulment process without it becoming a rubber stamp.  Some Vatican insiders say he will hold to traditional practice, others say no.  I just pray that there is wisdom and discernment that finds a way to balance concerns about holiness with concerns about mercy for the broken.  For God’s sake, let’s not be the army that shoots its wounded but also not be one who creates the wounding in obedience to the “Gospel of Nice”.

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Exiting a Porn-Land Culture

Portland

I grew up in what some people call “Porn-Land”, or, Portland, Oregon.  It is called that because it has been known to have the highest amount of strip clubs per capita in the country.  I might add that it also has a pretty high rate of adult shops as well (funny, that they call this “adult” when to be mature is to walk in some manner of respect for other people).

We live in a lonely world though full of technology with entertainment to meet the pain of such loneliness to the T; but then so we think.  With all of the those images and novels that captures the erotic instinct, what falls by the wayside is a respect for the object of our desire, ourselves and for the Creator that made us for something better than that.  Acting out on the desire to have sex without love can be helped with some conditioning but behavior is an outward sign of something wrong in the heart so compulsiveness has to be dealt with inwardly as well.  If it is dealt with right, what may be discovered that our real needs are to connect and this may or may not be dealt with physically.

Such is the angle of an ex-carpenter on a mountainside one day.  He is sitting down per the rabbinical tradition and teaching a higher way of thinking and living on many things and that includes the human “urge to merge”.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to go into hell” ( Matthew 5:27-30).

You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’— This is important because Jesus is about to take them beyond the obvious and the technical.  Referring to how they have heard something stands as contrast to the experiential part of Christianity including when it is not convenient.

everyone who looks at a woman with lust—- This is just one example on how someone can be objectified.  To objectify someone where you love their parts and not the sum of their person is having a selfish love centered on what you can get out of them.  In some cases the person is a user or could even be called the leach in a codependent relationship. An old friend of mine in high school was blind and said he could lust after a female by her voice.  If you desire a relationship with a person based on what is in their wallet, then you are also unfaithful to how creation should be with itself.  The sin in the heart can be very real and demeans the lustful and the lusted after.  Jesus brings in wisdom that shows a better way.

If your right eye causes you to sin—-  Yes, one could say this is about what you are doing with the literal orb in your socket but it can be much more.  What is the lens that you use to see the world?  Is it a lens that is based in love for people and uses things as a means to lift up the people around you?  Or is it a lens that is about loving the excitement for excitement sake and using people for that?

As a substance abuse counselor I hear and see things every day that are about the second of those roads.  It all starts with perspective and compulsively demeaning the people around them based on what can be harvested out of them whether it is the high of the drug and a cheap hook-up.  But the perspective can change with the hard questions and taking what the 12 Step program calls a fearless moral inventory.

And if your right hand causes you to sin—  Our hands are how we obtain the objects of our desires.  But I can say that it is also about the dysfunctional means we have for getting our hands on something that we should not have.

When a crime is involved there is motive, opportunity and alibi.  Motive, is in the eye verse.  Alibi is keeping yourself in situations that are above reproach.  Opportunity is in the hand verse.  If having the internet in a closed off room in the house is a means for looking at things you should not look at, then get the computer out to the living room where family or a roommate walks by.  If you have neither, get yourself on an accountability list.  Is losing some of your independence humiliating?  Well, so if giving account to God for demeaning His creation.

To cross a line takes the individual toolkit of the sinner.  But the righteous person who goes forward, they think of ways to handicap their toolkit to live a life of freedom.  Maybe you know how to flirt, manipulate, center things on you.  But using people is wrong.  Loving unselfishly is best.  What is stopping us?

A Peace of Mind And Heart

Forgiveness

It is an easy thing to say that you like the people one deals with on a daily basis. And if one says that they are spiritual then they can even say that they think of their Higher Power highly.

But the real person is the sum of a lot more than the best thoughts and best actions.  To present those things when things are going well and our cracks are not exposed in the light of stress.  Such stress can be when we are wronged by someone.  We had expectations possibly to be treated with dignity and respect that were proven to high or maybe some other kind that was just as off.  Either way, the light of being a loving person toward both God and fellow human beings has to start in the heart.

I remember when I was a kid hearing the idea of what we would feel like if we had a TV screen on our heads wherever we went that showed everything bad we have done.  My friends and I groaned about how lame that would be.  Then the speaker cut deeper and asked how it would feel if that screen showed everything we seriously considered doing.  The groan was much deeper.

When confronted by reading the words below of Jesus, there is chance to renew an examination of our conscience about life not being fair and how to rise above “fair” and choose love.

You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, “You shall not murder”; and “whoever murders shall be liable to judgement.” But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgement; and if you insult a brother or sister, you will be liable to the council; and if you say, “You fool”, you will be liable to the hell of fire. So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you,  leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift. Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are on the way to court with him, or your accuser may hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison. Truly I tell you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny (Matthew 5:21-26).

There is a famous saying from Father Michael Scanlon, “God opposes the proud [the Bible goes on to say ‘but embraces the humble’], especially when they are right.”  The point is that we get in turmoil over the temporary things when God is more invested into us walking in a higher way of thinking.  It is supposed to be about trusting Him to sort out the temporal things including how wrong the other person is.

To be angry with a person as an end in itself is not like righteous anger.  Jesus had righteous anger because it was clear by natural law and God’s divine law how they should live as teachers of the law and they were hypocrites instead.  Such righteous anger carried with it sincere grief over their sin and desire for their repentance to the their best selves per God’ creation.  Anger as an end in itself is only personal on what bad you ascribe to the person and not on their well being.   To rise above person anger and be open, if appropriate, to righteous anger involves a paradigm shift through prayer and meditation about how one has come to wrongful presuppositions about the life and dignity of their personhood and especially of their greatest enemy.

Saying they are a fool (raca means “empty head”) is denying that they are created in God’s image, whether man or woman, and ascribes a curse to them to not make better decisions.  After all, it takes a full head of the right things to make good decisions.  We must consider  how,   “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits” (Proverbs 18:21).  What would our lives look like if we chose to bless?  The key verb is to choose and does not happen by accident.  In different verses int the Bible the call to bless your enemies is a commandment precisely because it is hard.  But what stops us?  We live in a blame culture driven by knowing how to curse people fluently and with a pseudo-intellectual labeling based on what society says are the groups people belong to.

           So when you are offering your gift at the altar…

The word “when” assumes for the one who hears that they make coming to the altar a regular thing for worship. But to be in a bad state of contention with someone else hindering access to God should not effect the reader of the New Testament, right?  After all, there is no longer an altar to deal with so if if someone else has a problem with you, you have a personal relationship with your Higher Power and can comfort yourself in being a spiritual person with that logic.

Before you have your sigh of relieve, keep in mind that this was not the impression of the early church fathers about the importance of being pure in your daily living before you can commune properly with God.

“On the Lord’s own day, assemble in common to break bread and offer thanks; but first confess your sins, so that your sacrifice may be pure.  However, no one quarreling with his brother may join your meetings until they are reconciled; your sacrifice must not be defiled.  For here we have the saying of the Lord: ‘In every place and time offer me a pure sacrifice; for I am a mighty King, says the Lord; and my name spreads terror among the nations [cf. Mal 1:11]”.   

AD 70 The Didache.  

So before we congratulate ourselves highly, let’s ask ourselves how much of peace and love is in our lives.  And before those of us who pride ourselves for choosing the “Christian team” sit back in our Lazy Boy and procrastinate reconciliation with those we are in strife with, keep in mind that strife is an enemy of the cross of Christ.  On the other hand forgiveness and reconciliation is central to connecting to the Higher Power and everyone else.  What is stopping us?

 

True Religion In The Time Of Paris

Jenga

As I write this there has been a recent series of terror attacks in France.  There has been talk about cultural sensitivity, freedom of expression and xenophobia since it was someone using their freedom of expression in a way that conflicted with someone’s religious point of view that precipitated the violence.

Such a conflict has prompted some people like comedian and social commentator Bill Maher to call religion the cause of evil and to be abandoned for the good of all.  After all, aren’t all religions alike?  Don’t they all involve hypocrisy when they say it is about perfection?

I will address the first question by saying that all religions have certain similarities in that, with one exception, they either collapse on themselves or contradict themselves in their most fundamental characteristics.  The reason why the do that is in that they do not have a balanced foundation of putting ones self last in light of both a Higher Power and their fellow human beings.  Within the religion of secular humanism there is the cry of justice from within its trinity of class, race and gender for revenge that calls itself justice.  Within pantheistic religions there is a disposable view of ones fellow man since reincarnation means being recycled.

The place to find such a balance is in what theologians call salvation history which can be defined as the successive line of unfolded truth and divine relationship initiative from Abraham until today as the Judeo-Christian body of faiths.  People that study the Old and New Testaments may wrongly come of the conclusion that it is alright to cherry pick from the wording in the Old Testament but not all or one could be extreme like the terrorists of the radical expression of militant Islam.  If those critics are right then this Judeo-Christian salvation history is like a door that falls off and gives one no proper entry way to this spiritual house.

However, I would posit that this door does not fall off because the hinge that it turns on is solid and keeps it on track and His name is Jesus Christ.  Remember, that the collapses of religions around the world happen because of a deficit in regard to the Higher Power and ones fellow human being.  Jesus Christ stands as both God and man, the main ingredients or subjects of discussion important and offers disciples past and present the opportunity to be connected to Him

Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.  For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:17-20).

Please notice how this passage answers the first question.  That is because we know that Jesus said when asked about the greatest commandment that it was to love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength with the second to love your neighbor as yourself.  As for the terms “abolis” versus “fulfill” it is about this love being brought out for the world to know in His coming in baptism and perfected in suffering on the cross.  This is His ultimate commitment to us and surrender to the Father’s love for the world.

Now since this is born out, so a Christian believes, through the Christian people then one would think that hypocrisy should not be an issue.  I can say for sure that it is a problem but I am not seeing Jesus as an ineffective leader.  The reason is that when Christian hypocrites rise up, and I would call myself both at times, there is a point of reference in the life and teachings of Jesus Christ to come back to.  And there are always standard bearers that will lead such a believer, and an honest inquiring unbeliever straight home.  Such a home is referred to in other scripture as follows.

“… may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and bulwark of the truth. Without any doubt, the mystery of our religion is great:

He was revealed in flesh,

vindicated in spirit,

seen by angels,

proclaimed among Gentiles,

believed in throughout the world,

taken up in glory.

So if you are reading this and wonder what good can be found in being a Christ follower and do so fully then I would say it is fine to be skeptical.  Be open minded in thinking about where your paradigms come from.  Just do not be a cynic and thus a disciple of Bill Maher. For if you consider what you may be missing, the joke could really be on you.

Flicking The Light On

Lighthouse

“Let’s put some light on the subject.”  That is a common phrase people use when there is a lack of clarity on what to do in a small thing or how make a big decision.

But sometimes getting clarity on what is common sense becomes a matter of “be careful for what you wish for, you might get it.”  Once someone know what their encounter with truth is and its consequences then they may have to make a change in their life course that stretches them beyond their comfort zones.  Working in a substance abuse treatment center I see often where clients have their toxic drug habits and their toxic relationships for what they are.  From there they see their faith in their abilities or their desire to change wanting and take the stress out on those who call them on their %$# (insert vernacular here).  Lucky me!

When Jesus came not the scene there we see the natural reaction of hard hearted people with light.  “And this is the judgement, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil” (John 3:19).  Just as the world was “formless and void” (Genesis 1:2) before light was made, so were the consciences of enemies of God’s love in need of formation and filling.

As tempting as it is to dust off our hands and say that how God touches the world is a mystery and between Him and the individual.  It is tempting because it could appeal to someone who calls themselves “religious” and a “Christ-follower” to finding an individual spirituality without passing it on. But Jesus called, and still calls, His disciples to touch and be touched by the message of the kingdom as a community experience of in- reach to a fruitful outreach.  Thus He lays down the gauntlet here.

“You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hidden.  No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:15-16)

To be a navel gazing Christian as I described above is like hiding in that bushel.  And the navel gazing that keeps us from letting faith working itself out through love can have so many excuses.  Too busy.  Too stressed.  The people one would interact with are too different.

But light is invasive.  There is no flick of a switch that makes darkness turn out the light.  But if one has established themselves to be salt of the earth (see last post), then the next turning point is to “preach the gospel at all times, if needed, use words” (St. Francis).  To lean forward towards those who do not know Jesus is to be one who shows clarity by the clarity of the gospel that is being applied to your own life first.   An example of this light being done right is in how the personal sin you hate the most is ones own.  You pass on what you have.

So for the believer or the unbelieving reader going over these words I want to say emphatically that people of Westboro Baptist Church who scream homophobic epithets are by no means a light of Christianity.  By some of the working definition I outlined above they are clanging symbols who have not love.

But examples who live out such good deeds are too numerous for me to write here.  I could speak of close friends who were still my friends when I was unworthy of their friendship.  There are some heroes like Mother Theresa, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Andre Bissett, St. Pope John Paul II…and possibly you.  What is stopping us?

Salt On A Wounded World

Salt

Immortality is a cool concept.  The idea of not seeing the decay of muscle and skin has its appeal because to stay in ones prime is the ideal.  To be immortal is to cheat death and mediocrity.  To do such a thing would take something that is not of this world into the equation of this world.

When Jesus was speaking to his disciples, those who were daring enough to go from inquiry to commitment, the message to them included that which is otherworldly to so impact then that they would allow the supernatural to change them to the core.

But if a disciple of the never changing Jesus is marked with the stuff of heaven in meaning and day to day values, how is life in a world that is broken in self-interest and fear to interact with consistent followers of Jesus that are called to selflessness and love?  And vice-versa?

Jesus laid down the gauntlet again with this issue here:

You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot.

The first understanding to get from this verse is in reminding ourselves that not just anybody can be salt of the earth.  It has to be someone that has had a conversion experience, has heard the words of eternal life and is committed to those words being fleshed out where the rubber hits the road.

The second understanding is that those who calls themselves disciples of Jesus will be assessed by the world. Are the a functional group or is this a functional individual?  In my work as a social worker I assess people and family units by how harmonious they are with their values and the needs of daily living.  In a sense, those who do not call themselves Christians can be our valued critics in their inquiry and their challenges: do you walk the talk of living the Christian life?  Martin Luther King talked about a better day where one “is not judged by the color of their skin but the content of their character.”  The point is that we will all be judged by our fellow man.

At this point I need to point out that being salt of the earth does not rest primarily on being assessed by the world but on God and Christians should not be confused on this.  The agenda of God includes His Church being right when the world is wrong not just right where it is right.  Salt can be healing, salt can burn where the flesh is sensitive and salt can be both.  So too is the Body of Christ intrinsically in its calling. So when I hear about the intention to be “culturally relevant”, I get nervous because if it is not a noble pursuit like avoiding ethnocentric thinking (e.g. God is a White Republican), then it turns into going along with situational ethics and “the tyranny of moral relativism” (Joesph Ratzinger).  When people who call themselves Christians go with The Church of Oprah or the latest emotional blackmail tactic of Glee, they get the applause of the world but the groan of the martyrs that paid the price of staying true to God.

If it is any comfort to those who have bowed their knee to the Gospel of Oprah, to be holy will still gain you respect.  You could be a martyr, but even those who would kill you will respect you.  Case in point is John the Baptist.  He was put in prison by Herod because he said that it was unlawful to have his brother’s wife.  Yet the scriptures say that he loved to hear him preach between arresting him and having him executed.  Such a bad scenario is not the worst that could have happened to him.  The worst that could have happened would be, “Hey Herod.  I was so insensitive to your alternative means of courtship of marriage.  Who am I to argue with the ways of the human heart? As long as you love each other.”

“Thanks for getting with the times, Jonny! Come on everybody! Give him some applause and send him on his way.”  And under such an addiction of flattery he lives a comfy life as can we and be trampled under the seductive feet of worldly praise.  As we all have where we have lost our way. But where the individual disciple of Jesus loses their way, what are the characteristics of being back in the trademark of being spiritually relevant first?

I remember a great photo of a lighthouse in my in-laws place.  It is a modest sized lighthouse on a small rock with waves towering onto it but not going anywhere that day or any other day.  Such is the Church that was founded 2,000 years ago.  “ if I am delayed, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and bulwark of the truth” (1 Timothy 3:15).

Make no mistake.  When one is passive with the flow of a morally relative culture you just drift into a different church.  It is just a church consecrated to the fundamental purpose of the self being God which is inherently going to be a shaking into destruction.

Also be sure that in a refining process for the people walking with Christ there will also be a shaking.  In fact, it will on them first.  Simon Peter wrote in his first papal encyclical “judgment begins with the house of God”.  The meaning of this is that when Christians engage with the world it is to be in humility and not “holier than thou” but holy by Him.

If we are grounded like this then we maintain, or through repentance, regain this “saltiness”.  We will not be dismissed as irrelevant and if we are stomped on it will be because we are linked with the calling of the “one, holy, Catholic and apostolic Church” (Nicean Creed 325).  Can you stay “salty”?  Do you want to? If not, are you really gaining what matters?  The gift of free will is to all of us.  I am making my choice to be a yes and hopefully be a vessel for healing and saving.

AFTERNOTE—For the reader that does not find themselves in communion with Rome, I want to make sure you are edified too.  Anyone who has had a conversion experience with Jesus is touched by the message of God’s saving love for the whole whole world and not isolated to one race or ethnicity.  Catholicity is at one level taking the whole gospel to the whole world.