Word Magazine December 1964 Page 8-9
By Rev. Robert E. Lucas
A term often heard in diverse news media and in personal conversation these days is CORRUPTIION. Unfortunately, it exists on every level of society and has invaded almost every field of endeavor. It affects the life of every citizen in our land. It usually begins with a little, “insignificant” thing which those with principles think it is unimportant to even make mention of. This of course is the feeler, let out by the King of corruptors himself, the devil. He is eager to test our reaction. He wants to gauge our response. The kings of corruption continue with little things until even those with principles no longer have any scruples. It is only then they take the next step — a step towards something just a little worse and slowly, but surely they become progressively entrenched in evil and caught in its mire. The pattern is repeated countless numbers of times until we awaken one morning finding ourselves completely surrounded by corruption in such terrific proportions and tremendous magnitudes that we can’t understand how it all occurred.
It is the duty of the future citizen of heaven to never feel that any corruption of God’s pristine laws is insignificant. But even far more important, it is not only the duty, but the sacred obligation of us all, to fight and root out corruption of God’s wishes and His laws whenever and wherever we find them no matter how insignificant we might judge them to be.
Priests, like other people can become accustomed to the existence of evil. Priests, perhaps more than anyone else know of the corruption of God’s laws and moral principles in life because their main objective is to eradicate evil and corruption of man’s nature.
The devil is clever, because after all, is he not close to God himself? Did he not benefit from his proximity to God before the fall? Does he not employ all possible devious means to keep us from Christ? What better place and where better can he find more fertile ground than in the very garden God gave us for our salvation? The danger here is that without even realizing it, the priest, as the leader of his portion of the church, finds himself not only dealing with corruption, but many times, even in debt to the corruptors.
Many maintain a small compromise is worth saving a great deal of difficulty in the parish. Here an evil means is used to gain a good end. This can never be tolerated because if we are to examine the end, we’d readily discover it is not good and not even moral!
The priest of God who represents the Church to his people must be willing to spend himself completely fighting corruption and never allow himself to become its victim. Did not the devil say “I shall slay the shepherd and the flock will scatter”? Once we forsake our principles, others will be forsaken even far more easily. This is only step from subjection of the church to the corruptors; it is one step away from blackmail. It is one step away from destruction. It is one step away from total giving in to the corruptors. It is one step away from pragmatism. It is stepping right next to and aligning ourselves with the devil!
One of the major reasons for misunderstanding between the priest and the laity is the lack of true realization on the part of the laity of just who and what a priest is. We’ve never given ourselves an opportunity to investigate the meaning of Christ’s priesthood. The priest is, as anyone will agree, another Christ —“alter Christus.” But we must always retain in our consciousness the reality of a dual nature in Christ’s eternal priesthood. Christ was not only the Christ Who cured the ill, fed the multitudes and blessed the Children, but He was also and we particularly who are spiritually complacent, should remember this — He was the priest who also labeled a spade a spade, to employ a common expression. Without hesitation or a moment’s redress, he cried out hypocrites and whitened sepulchres as He addressed Himself to the leaders of the Jews! He was the priest Who came with a sword. Recall how He actually pushed the money lenders and money changers down the temple steps with their carts and animals tumbling after them. Even this He did not do before He planted a few welts on their backs and arms with a leather strap. And when we think of the steps in the temple being somewhat in proportion to the number which lead to the National Capitol we can readily appreciate the condition of these men as they bounced to the bottom. Here was the Mercy of God in divine and yet righteous criticism being heaped upon these corruptors.
Yet when a priest of today imitates the High Priest, he is condemned as being proud and dictatorial and of all things — of being un-Christ-like! When things in the Church affect the priesthood and the principles of truth and morality in the Church, obedience, justice, and salvation of the flock, he must speak loudly against them. He can never remain silent. He must stand up to the wrong, to the evil, to the corruption; he must take his whip and he must bring the matter into subjection to our God.
The laity must remember this is not of the priest’s choosing. But if he is to be a priest, it is his duty and obligation. “But he that is a hireling and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep and fleeth; and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. The hireling fleeth because he is a hireling and careth not for the sheep.” (John 10:12, 13) Christ’s charity does not rule out justice nor does humility destroy justified anger. Meekness does not mean mealy-mouthedness. Nor should anyone think that discipline means revenge.
A good and loving father tells a child no not because he hates his own flesh, not out of revenge or to show his superiority, but because he loves the child and sees to it that it is corrected, so that it will come to a realization of right and wrong. If a child persists in his error after several admonitions, a good father will not hesitate to take the child to task and turn him to the whip, even if, as the popular saying has it, it hurts the father more than the child!
A good priest is a good father, only more so. The priest realizes more than any of his people the value of a single soul and if the whip is the only means left to save it, he will gladly resort to this to save the soul and to fashion His priesthood after the eternal High Priesthood of Christ!