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The sword and the lily

May 15, 2015
Michael Stallman
San Mateo

In his column (“Who am I to judge?” April 24) Father Ron Rolheiser says that we, not Christ, judge ourselves. While I see how someone might appreciate his heartwarming and inspirational Pablum, Father Rolheiser does no one a favor by allowing us to forget we all must render an account of our discipleship: “For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of God … So [then] each of us shall give an account of himself [to God]” (Romans 14:10-12).

Christ will certainly judge us all and has established a day on which he will judge the world with justice. We face our particular judgments at the hour of death, and the general judgment at the end of time. The icon of Christ seated in glory is often depicted with a sword on his left and a lily on his right, representing justice and mercy respectively; there is no mercy without also justice. The beautiful message of Divine Mercy, gushing forth for those who might only ask, only makes sense in a world where there is something to be saved from: Sin, death, hell. “The one who judges me is the Lord” (1 Corinthians 4:4).

In denying Christ’s judgment, I’m afraid Father Rolheiser strips him also of his beautiful mercy and forgiveness. Being told to judge ourselves, we can all too easily invent our own religion, picking and choosing the doctrines we prefer. We can forget Christ instead says: “Deny yourself; follow me.”

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