THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH
Her Doctrine and Morals
27 February 2011
Saturday, February 26, 2011
Let us consider today a perennial problem that plagues the Church: false teachers.
St. Paul speaks against these in today’s Epistle. The Corinthians apparently had been influenced by the boasting and wonderful claims of some false teachers, and this occasioned St. Paul to speak of himself. He does this even though he tells us that it is foolish to do so. He is forced to do this in order to remind us that the Church has everything that the false teachers or heretics have, and more. St. Paul exceeded in everything that the false teachers proposed to have. Therefore if we are impressed by the little that the heretics have, we should be much more impressed by what the true Church has. The heretics can only imitate and pretend to possess what the Church has. Therefore, all their boasting is in vain. The Church does not need to boast because She is secure in what God has given Her, and because it is not expedient to give into vain boasting. That is why we hear St. Paul telling us that he is speaking as a fool when he expounds what he has done and suffered.
In today’s Gospel Our Lord presents us with a parable explaining to us how God’s grace is received into the souls of different people. The seed that fell upon different soils was the same. The grace that God gives to everyone is the same. What is different is how each soil responds to the seed or how each soul responds to God’s grace.
Many of the false teachers appear to be true on the surface and appear to have what the Church has because they have received the same initial grace. The seed sprouted upon the rock and it looked just like the seed that sprouted in the good ground. The initial stage or first look sees a lot that is the same or similar. The same can be said of the seed that fell among thorns. It too, when sprouted looks very similar to the sprouts in the good ground.
The heretics use this means to deceive the incautious. They use the same scriptures; they expound many of the same doctrines. We see them and we see the Church; and at first glance it is hard to tell one from the other. It is not until we draw closer and begin to examine one and the other that we discover the truth.
Many of the false teachers boast of the graces that they have, forgetting that these are gifts of God and have nothing to do with their own works or merit. As we look closer though, it becomes apparent that these graces have never taken deep root in these false teachers. The shallow root of their teachings causes them to wither up in the first heats of trials or temptations. These false teachers are often supported by devils. The devils will do all they can to lend these false teachers success and aid in their “ministry”. The devils will shade and protect them so as to feed their vanity and lead many others astray too. Worldly success and number of followers is more in the line of false teachers and devils rather than in the Church. The Church is interested in depth and solidity. The Church desires to fill our hearts with a deep, profound, and solid love for God, not a quick and flashing emotion or sentiment. This love for God is able to endure hardship and suffering willingly and is in fact made stronger by it.
There are other false teachers who may have deeper roots than these first, but it soon becomes apparent that the rapid and high growth of these is not due to cooperation with God’s grace, but more like the seed among the thorns: it is struggling to reach the light and in this it seems to reach high but it is thin and weak. There is no substance to the poor plant. These too we find have some truth and goodness in them, but it is mixed in with much more error and evil. The little truth and goodness is thin and weak. The closer examination shows that it is too weak to produce much if any fruit.
The true teachers have depth and strength as they have cooperated with the grace that they have received. They have done all that the false teachers claim to have done and more. They refrain from boasting because it is empty and useless.
Let us not be lead away with the vain and empty honors and glories of so many false teachers around us. We must look more carefully and see that it is vain and empty and search for teaching that is strong and deeply rooted and which can only be found in the Church.
As we accept the teachers that God has sent we will find ourselves better able to receive God’s grace into our souls so that it may take root and grow there. Then on the day of harvest we will all see very clearly the fruits produced by each one. We will see the false teachers and the emptiness of their boasting and we will see the Church and the fullness of the fruit of Her teaching. If we have been faithful to the Church we will see our own fruitfulness also as we prepare for our eternal reward in Heaven.