June 15, 2017

The Difference Between Love and Tolerance

Our Lord with the rich young man

Venerable Fulton Sheen once observed that “Love is not tolerance.” He writes in part, “Christian love bears evil, but it does not tolerate it. It does penance for the sins of others, but it is not broadminded about sin. The cry for tolerance never induces it to quench its hatred of the evil philosophies that have entered into contest with the Truth. It forgives the sinner, and it hates the sin; it is unmerciful to the error in his mind. The sinner it will always take back into the bosom of the Mystical Body; but his lie will never be taken into the treasury of His Wisdom....”

In society today, tolerance, diversity and inclusivity are the fundamental values demanded by political correctness and the cultural elite (i.e.: the fourth estate, academia and Hollywood). The Church, by contrast, following the example of our Lord, insists that the fundamental value is to love. To love is to will the good of the other. Love can be inclusive, but not always. Love can be tolerant, but never of sin or evil. In the Catholic Tradition, love is not an emotion. Rather, love is an act of the will. All persons have an intellect with which to know and a will with which to choose. As Catholics, we must choose to love in imitation of Christ.

Jesus became one of us to save all of us. His gift of salvation, while offered to all, requires heroic virtue. When the rich young man asked Jesus, “Teacher, what good must I do to gain eternal life?”, Our Lord instructed him to keep the commandments. The rich young man replied, “All of these I have observed. What do I still lack?” Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to [the] poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” When the young man heard this statement, he went away sad, for he had many possessions. Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Amen, I say to you, it will be hard for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt 16:9-23)

Note that Jesus did not chase after the rich young man with a compromise solution. He did not say, "Wait! Don’t go. Sell half of what you have and be my disciple." Likewise, in John, when Jesus proclaims, "Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink." Many of his disciples who heard this said, "This saying is hard; who can accept it?" (John 6:53-60) Jesus does not amend his declaration. He reiterates it.

In conclusion, let us return to the words of Venerable Fulton Sheen who brilliantly distinguishes between the love of Christ and tolerance: "Real love involves real hatred: whoever has lost the power of moral indignation and the urge to drive the buyers and sellers from the temples has also lost a living, fervent love of Truth. Charity, then, is not a mild philosophy of "live and let live"; it is not a species of sloppy sentiment. Charity is the infusion of the Spirit of God, which makes us love the beautiful and hate the morally ugly.” In a world that is devoid of moral absolutes, we ask you, heavenly Father, for the wisdom to know your truth and the courage to persevere in your love. Through Jesus Christ our Lord.

No comments :