14 Jul Do Not Idolise Preachers
Are we idolising priests, preachers, pastors and other individuals? If so, we should ensure that we are not elevating these individuals to the place reserved for Christ in our heart. Jesus is worthy to receive worship, because God alone is our Saviour.
“Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.” Colossians 3:5
Overcoming lustful tendencies
How to overcome the lustful tendencies of the flesh? After knowing about the conscious and subconscious mind, it is also important to protect our five senses.
If we want to come out of the bad habits of the flesh, i.e. alcohol, drugs or sexual perversion; we have to accept what we are going through, our weaknesses, our sinfulness. Offer to the Lord the weakness of our human nature.
Justification for our sins
By justifying our sinful deeds by saying, “What is wrong? It’s ok. If others are doing it, so can we.” or tolerating our sins by saying, “We are human and weak. Making a mistake is common to all.”, it will be impossible to come out of sin and overcome our sins. These sins of ours—these little openings—are enough for the devil to exploit us and to use to his advantage.
First, we have to be convinced ourselves, through the Word of God, the Church fathers and teachings, that we struggle with our addictions which lead to sin, which is evil. If we are unsure about our sins or of our deeds being evil, then we have to find out what are the official teachings of the Church about sin. We will know the truth, and this truth will set us free. If we are lacking in the complete truth about our sins and of doing evil, we will be under the bondage of the devil, the Evil One.
Second, we should not justify our sins by what others are doing, e.g. priests, bishops, preachers or other individuals. However, we should look at Jesus if we want to come out of our sins. In addition, we will be responsible for the sins of others who, inspired by us, fall into addictions and destroy themselves.
Jesus said, “Do not be a scandal to the least of your brethren, if you are becoming a scandal to the least of your brethren, it is better to tie around your neck a big millstone and be thrown into the sea.” Jesus was very strict about this.
“All things are lawful for me, but not all things are beneficial. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be dominated by anything.” 1 Corinthians 6:12
Are we getting spiritually encouraged or more anointed with the vision and wisdom from God? It could be just the opposite.
“These also reel with wine and stagger with strong drink, the priest and the prophet reel with strong drink, they are confused with wine, they stagger with strong drink; they err in vision, they stumble in giving judgment.” Isaiah 28:7
We compromise and forget the fact that there are numerous people inspired by our actions and that a small sinful action can get bigger when followed by many. Priests and prophets, who are to be our role models, are themselves confused with wine and stagger with strong drink. They make mistakes in their vision and are unable to guide the people in the right way. They stumble in giving judgements.
As a priest, I may be unable to provide you with correct answers or guidance.
A person in the confessional was being open to the Lord and confessing every sin to the confessor. The confessor said that he was being scrupulous. So, the person stopped confessing and started doubting himself. Confessing all our sins is sincerity as we are making sure that each of our sins is confessed, as we want to be holy. The Sacrament of Reconciliation, or Confession, is provided to us so that we can use it properly. Even our smallest sin is to be confessed so that our graces will not be blocked.
We have to pray for each other, the Church, the ministries around the world, the clergy and pray for us too at Divine Retreat Centre, so that we do not lead you astray as wrong role models. Each of us has a responsibility to be a good role model; we need to try as much as possible, and the rest will be taken care of by God.
To summarise, to overcome our sins:
- Admit our sins and be convinced
- Don’t compromise
- Don’t look at others and justify our sins
- Look at Jesus if we want to justify our sins
- Fill our mind with the Word of God
By looking at Jesus, we realise that we are sinners. When we look at Jesus, we will feel guilty of our sins. However, when we look at other individuals, preachers and priests, we want to justify our sins. Looking at Jesus, we will never be able to justify our sins. The problem today is searching for role models and heroes to follow. When someone in a high position commits a sin, we can justify our sin and we feel comfortable with our sin. Make Jesus Christ the focal point in our lives, and we won’t make any mistakes or be disappointed. We should ensure that we don’t idolise anyone. Just because we have changed through the preachings of a preacher or priest, we should neither surrender our lives to that person nor depend on that person. Jesus heals and changes us through persons like priests; hence, we should surrender our lives only to Jesus.
How do we know the will of God? Are we afraid of our business or family collapsing or are we afraid of committing sin and hurting God? God gives us a message through a priest or individual so that we can depend on Jesus. Our intimacy is with Jesus and our focus should not be on the things of this world but on the things of Heaven. Then God himself will guide and direct us.
God’s promises in the Holy Bible are for us. When we doubt the promises of God and depend on others, we will be in pain because of others. God wants to speak to us directly. If we surrender our lives to others, destruction will also come through them.
Many Samaritans from that city believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I have ever done.” So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them; and he stayed there two days. And many more believed because of his word. They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the Saviour of the world.” John 4:39-42
We need to grow spiritually and personally with direct contact with Jesus; everything else is a failure in our lives. God wants to have a direct and intimate relationship with us without having an earthly mediator, as he is our Father in Heaven.
When we are connected to preachers and pastors, we don’t want to know the truth. Sometimes, we blindly follow these individuals even if it is against the traditions of the Catholic Church and the teachings of the Holy Bible. Surrendering our mind, or even our will, to pastors and priests means idolising them. We must hold these individuals in their proper place, as servants of God and not as idols to be adored or worshipped, because they are fallible, imperfect servants of God. This is the reason thousands of denominations are created across the world today.
Our love, affection, surrender or dependency on the Lord should not be because of priests and preachers, but on Jesus and the Catholic Church, with its teaching of two thousand years. Idol worship is a sin against the first commandment. The Catholic Church can’t be wrong, but with human beings, mistakes can be made.
Now when David settled in his house, David said to the prophet Nathan, “I am living in a house of cedar, but the ark of the covenant of the Lord is under a tent.” Nathan said to David, “Do all that you have in mind, for God is with you.” But that same night the word of the Lord came to Nathan, saying: “Go and tell my servant David: Thus says the Lord: You shall not build me a house to live in.” 1 Chronicles 17:1-4
Even if a powerful prophet like Nathan could make a mistake in giving advice, how much more will the mistakes be of today’s preachers, pastors and priests who will not be able to correct us because of their ego.
Miracles, charisms, gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit are for us so that we can come closer to Jesus. All the possible ways to grow in holiness and to connect with God have been established by the Catholic Church. To get rid of our original sin, we need to recall that through Baptism, we have become members of the Body of Christ and that our body has become the temple of the Holy Spirit, a temple that we must honour. Through the Sacrament of Reconciliation, we should confess our sins and repent with a firm resolve not to commit them again. We have the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist to receive the Body of Christ, which we can receive everyday. Through the Holy Spirit received during the Sacrament of Confirmation, we have been made strong to fight the good fight against all our sins. Through the Sacrament of Matrimony, we can lead a godly family life. During sickness, we have the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick which provides us with special graces from God that comforts and heals us both spiritually and physically. The Anointing of the Sick is food for our last journey and that food will help us to reach Heaven. We should utilise all the sacraments which are provided to us to grow spiritually and to be connected with Jesus. From birth till death here on Earth, we are covered by all of God’s graces.
That’s how Jesus is protecting us through the Catholic Church. The Church does not abandon us in our life’s journey, but we abandon the Church, the mystical body of Christ, by not fulfilling the sacraments given to us.
My earlier talks mentioned the conscious, subconscious and unconscious mind. If our conscious and subconscious minds are filled with lustful thoughts, then each time we close our eyes, dirty thoughts, pictures and feelings will pop into our minds. Things from our past which we have been listening and watching have filled our subconscious mind and are leading us to temptation.
How to cleanse our conscious and subconscious mind?
Confess all past sins, and reject and renounce sin. We should neither enjoy nor re-live the excitement and pleasure of our past sins. By enjoying our past sins, we are feeding and renewing the sins in ourselves. Sin is an action with pleasure attached to it. With no pleasure, no sin will be committed. Sin isn’t important, but it’s the pleasure—because of which we sin—that is important. The desire for pleasure remains in us. When we think about a past sin, it means that we are desiring to enjoy its pleasure again. When we bring back the pleasure in our mind, which is called temptation, it naturally goes to our body, which causes us to sin.
So, what are we supposed to do?
Reject not only the sin but also the associated pleasure. If we take pride in our past sins, sooner or later we are bound to commit those same sins. We have a duty and responsibility to have a continuous fight with ourselves to overcome sin. With God’s help, we must wrestle against ourselves so that we come out successfully and be changed.