February 28, 2003
Clarity, Certainty, and Commitment
"The command of the Lord is clear, enlightening the eye." Psalm 19:9
God's command must be clear if we are to be enlightened by it and obey it. Not everything in life is clear, but the Lord, because of His love for us, has made clear many of the most important things through His Church and His word.
The Lord provides clarity for us because clarity is usually the basis of certainty, and certainty is the basis for victory over temptations, unity in the body of Christ, and total commitment to the Lord. In effect, we do not have the basis for Christianity without certainty about God's love, the importance of His Church, the truth of His word, God's forgiveness and mercy, His plan of salvation, our future judgment, eternal happiness, etc. Luke wrote his gospel that we may see the "certainty" of the teaching we received (Lk 1:4, our transl). This explains why Satan's first temptation of a human being was to replace with confusion and doubt the clarity and certainty of God's command not to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil (see Gn 3:1). Satan tried the same tactic when he tempted Jesus in the desert. After God the Father proclaimed Jesus to be His beloved Son, Satan questioned this by saying: "If You are the Son of God..." (Mt 4: 3, 6).
If we're not clear about something being sinful, do we make the effort to resist temptation? "If the bugle's sound is uncertain, who will get ready for battle?" (1 Cor 14:8) If we have a question mark about the permanence of marriage, will we persevere in forgiving, loving, and suffering in those awful times which are part of every marriage? If we're not clear and certain about our faith in Jesus, will we totally give our lives to Him? Pope John Paul II teaches: "If we are not certain about the truth, how can we put our whole life on the line?" ("I Will Give You Pastors," 52) Pope Paul VI taught: "Another sign of love will be the effort to give Christians not doubts and uncertainties...but certainties that are solid because they are anchored in the Word of God. The faithful need these certainties for their Christian life; they have a right to them, as children of God who abandon themselves entirely into His arms" ("On Evangelization," 79).
Pope John Paul II also taught: "Indeed, only when your teaching is clear, unambiguous, and united will it rise above the clash of conflicting opinions with the forcefulness and the power of the truth (March 20, 1993, at the ad limina visits of the bishops of Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin). Therefore, "guard the rich deposit of faith" from falsehood, confusion, and lack of clarity (2 Tm 1:14). This will give us the basis for victory, unity, and total commitment to the Lord.
Nihil obstat: Rev. Ralph J. Lawrence,
April 5, 2004.
Imprimatur: Most Rev. Carl K. Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, April 8, 2004.