To Be Threatened or to Threaten?

Much has been said recently about the threats of every kind surrounding the barque of the Holy Church in the increasingly tempestuous waters of this world. They are real, without any doubt. However, little or no mention is made of the threats uttered by the divine lips of the One who constituted that same barque and who, despite the delusional pretensions of the evil forces, has maintained and led it victoriously for two thousand years.

Indeed, though countless words of sweetness and forgiveness flowed from the mouth of the Divine Master, there were also many censures proffered against the most diverse categories of beings. He rebuked the fever that prostrated Simon’s mother-in-law (cf. Lk 4:39) and the storm that terrified His disciples on the Sea of Tiberias (cf. Mk 4:39); He denounced the demons (cf. Mt 17:18; Mk 1:25; 9:25; Lk 4:35; 9:42) and His most faithful servants of the time, namely the scribes and Pharisees (cf. Mk 3:5; Mt 23:13-38; Lk 11:38-52) who had taken over Moses’ seat (cf. Mt 23:2). He also frequently included strong threats in His wise parables, for example, against the lax steward who, if found by his master mistreating his servants, would be violently punished (cf. Lk 12:46).

These threats were not lacking even in the most decisive moments of the Saviour’s life, such as at the Last Supper, when He dictated to His disciples the sublime testament of His love: “Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray Me. […] but woe to that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born” (Mt 26:21, 24).

In view of these considerations, the parable of the vinedressers (cf. Lk 20:9-19) offers us a consoling application with regard to the aforementioned threats surrounding the Holy Church in our day. The master of the vineyard sends three different servants to collect what is due from the tenants, but these beat the emissaries and ultimately murder the heir himself, who is finally sent to them. Jesus asks His listeners: “What then will the owner of the vineyard do to them? He will come and destroy those tenants, and give the vineyard to others” (Lk 20:15-16). This was the fate of the ministers of the Old Law who refused to accept the Messiah, and who easily recognized themselves in the figures of these criminals (cf. Lk 20:19).

After referring to the cornerstone rejected by the builders, Our Lord seals His divine words with a threat: “Every one who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces; but when it falls on any one it will crush him” (Lk 20:18). This intimidation can well be attributed to the Mystical Bride of the One who is that cornerstone, especially in relation to the promise of her indefectibility (cf. Mt 16:18), for the parable shows that when good ministers are lacking, the Lord is not slow to send them, annihilating the usurpers.

Thus, amid the strongest winds and the most troubled waters, it is not the Holy Church that should fear threats, but rather her enemies. The external ones, who will be broken when they fall on this rock; and the internal ones, who will be crushed when they see it fall on them with the weight of the Blessed Virgin’s heel: “She will crush” (Gn 3:15). ◊


Ship in a storm (edited), by Thomas G. Purvis – National Maritime Museum, London



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