Now that Lent has begun most of us in the Western Church (the Latin Church) seem to concentrate on giving up things. We give up food or sweets or meat. We give up television or movies or whatever. It seems that a much more relevant fast today would be to give up ‘heresy’.
Shocking, isn’t it? To think that there might actually be a heresy alive and kicking in the Church that we could work to ‘give up’. But let’s consider the heresy that Marcion. A rich ship owner from the Black Sea, he arrived in Rome in the middle of the second century and donated a large sum of money to the church there, for it’s charitable works. The money was soon returned to him when they understood the heresy he was promoting. (Wonder if any our charities would do the same?)
Marcion drew a sharp distinction between the God of the Jewish Scriptures, on the one hand, a spiteful, vengeful and malicious deity, and, on the other hand, the newly revealed God, the Father of Jesus Christ, a loving God who redeems us from the God of the Old Testament. So, how does this affect us or cause us to slip into heresy?
Think about how ‘politically correct’ the Church has become. Recall how, in modern terms, we have become the ‘Church of Nice’. We try to cut out any passages in the psalms or Old and New Testaments that mention the punishment of evil men (and women). We edit the breviary so we don’t have to sing about a wrathful God or a God who punishes. That is so not our God we deceive ourselves into thinking. We want only the Incarnation. Only the cute baby Jesus who grows up to be the cute baby man Jesus who is all sweetness and joy. We forget that the reality of God in His Son Jesus is the Paschal God. The God of the Agony in the Garden; the Crucifixion and Death on the Cross; the Resurrection from the Dead.
So, for Lent let’s give up the Marcion heresy. Let’s once again search the Scriptures (that is, the Old Testament) to find the revelation of God the Father in his Son Jesus. It most definitely is not the definition offered by the Church of Nice.