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Monday, January 5, 2009

The Simplicity of the Gospel

As I reflected on today's readings, I was really struck* by how simple the Gospel really is. In the readings today, Our Lord sums up the Gospel message in one sentence: “Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand.” (Mt 4:17) Likewise, St. John sums up how to live as the Gospel demands in one sentence in his First Letter: “we should believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another just as he commanded us.” (1 John 3:23) That's it. Everything else that we believe as Christians builds on those two sentences. Our prayers, devotions, liturgies, doctrines, and dogmas come out of those brief statements.

So, why is the Catechism of the Catholic Church so big? Simple, we keep finding ways to screw up this simple message, and need to be corrected. If we all repented of our sins, did as Our Lord commanded, and loved our neighbors as ourselves, the Catechism would be about as long as this blog post. Since we keep trying to find loopholes or exceptions to the rule, we need more guidance. Hence the 900+ pages in the Catechism.

* NB: I never start a homily like this. It's bad homiletics, as it should be implied in your preparation. For a blog post, one needs to set the scene that brought up the post.


Adoro said...

That makes perfect sense.

It's the same reason we have so many laws and state statutes and warnings on coffee cups.

Miguel Cuthbert said...

Did G. K. Chesterton say something similar? Something like "When we break the big laws we get lots of little ones."

Father Cory Sticha said...


That's exactly it, especially the warnings that come from lawsuits. If we didn't find ways to harm ourselves with others' products, there wouldn't be as many warning labels all over everything. I'm waiting for the day when there is a Federally-mandated warning on knives: "Warning: sharp edge may cut."

Father Cory Sticha said...


If the good Mr. Chesterton didn't say that, it sure sounds like something he would say, doesn't it? According to the American Chestertonian Society (a great website), he did write it. Here's the full quote:

"When you break the big laws, you do not get freedom; you do not even get anarchy. You get the small laws."

I'm always amazed by the wisdom in G.K. Chesterton's writings. I wish I had half the wit and wisdom that he displayed.