|Church of Santa Sabina|
The Catholic NewsService reporting on Pope Benedict’s homily for the first day of Lent at Rome’s Church of Santa Sabina was filled with some incredibly dark images based on his frequent literal rather then interpretative interpretation of Scripture.
In his opening remarks the Pope said . . . "In the Catholic liturgy, ashes are "one of those material signs that bring the cosmos into the liturgy," he said. They recall both the fact that God created human beings out of the dust of the earth and breathed divine life into them, but also that after Adam and Eve sinned, God cursed the ground and made it bring forth thistles and thorns. Only by giving this passage a simple literal interpretation could any reader deduce that it was God who cursed the ground. Again in clear contradiction of scripture should we not recall that at the end of the sixth day “God looked at everything he had made, and he was very pleased”! Could it be this passage marks the very first time man tried to create God in his image?
Speaking about the sins of Adam and Eve, Benedict went on to say. . . “while God punishes people for their sins, his punishment is ‘medicinal’ because God is good and loving' . . . This was followed by an even more challenging theological interpretation as Benedict announced that . . . ‘God sent his son ‘to our earth devastated by sin so that we, prodigal sons and daughters, could return repentant and redeemed by his mercy to our true homeland" in heaven” . . .
The Pope’s reference to God’s punishment reminds this blogger that our Pope is not only a theologian with dark fundamentalist (Jansemism) views which sets back Catholicism centuries to the days of the Inquisition, crusades, witch-hunts, and the persecution of Jews but also why he is able to justify his unusual focus on the sexual sins of so many these days. Our God does not punish, reward, demand, or play favourites - we do.
The Pope's further suggestion that . . . "God sent his son was because “our earth was devastated by sin” . . . . offers yet another clear contradiction. It ignores Jesus’ message “I came so that you might have life to be lived in all its fullness’! (John 10:10) God sent his son because he loves all of his creation. No greater sacrifice could be made than to die for another, i.e., us! The Pope’s fear based message is hardly likely to heal anyone’s image of a loving God. His Augustinian view of the world makes a mockery of God’s unconditional love. (readers may be interested to learn that St. Augustine is Benedict's favourite Saint). BTW the word 'bless' and variations thereof appears more than 85 times in the book of Genesis. Should that not tell us something about the true nature of God?
Let us celebrate Lent with the knowledge that God does not punish, reward, demand or send anyone to hell. God is only interested in blessing us. Perhaps we could open our hearts to his many blessings and spend the next forty days reflecting on Jesus’ rejection of the only Satan that exists and that is our EGO. Of course as anyone knows that takes true humility and a change of heart.