Does Jesus Love You Just the Way You Are?
Against such absurd claims, only sharp replies will do.
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Like ice water splashed onto the face of a hallucinating man, the sharp reply brings a man back to his senses. Indeed, such ubiquitous sloganeering is built upon decades of theological dissent, very much the way landfill, when accumulated, creates mountains. The mountains sometimes rise very high, but what makes them seemingly mountainous is—garbage.
Sadly, such follies have settled so deeply into the Catholic soul that dislodging them is an almost Herculean task. All of it due to the assiduous efforts of a complicit theological elite who have controlled the levers of both universities and colleges for over half a century. They have left most Catholics with a throw-away religion, rendering them blind—not seeing what their eyes see.
Evidence abounds. Recent press accounts have shown photos of Catholic churches in Europe being redesigned into tony hotels (this occurring on every continent). Where once stood tabernacles, saints, and angels, there now stand boudoirs. And no one grieves.
Notre Dame Cathedral’s post-fire interior now resembles a Jackson Pollock canvas rather than one of the mightiest Cathedrals in Christendom, whose sanctuary and furnishings made Catholics tremble in awe. And no one grieves.
You see, Jesus does not love us just the way we are. He pities the way we are. Such Divine pity caused the Son of God to take flesh in the womb of His Virgin Mother. All these motions proceeded from the Divine Mercy. Under the weight of Original Sin, and its concupiscible effects, man has been left, in St. Augustine’s disturbing phrase, a massa damnata (a damnable assemblage).
Our lot is to cast about under the weight of this Original catastrophe. It is against this forbidding fate that we properly appreciate the Divine Mercy and capture the vacuity of the statement that “Jesus loves us just the way we are.”
In Psalm 24:10 we read, “All the ways of the Lord are mercy and truth (justice).” St. James adds, “Mercy exalteth herself above judgment (justice)” (James 2:13). To these two passages, St. Thomas Aquinas comments,
In this sense, that every work of justice presupposes and is founded upon a work of mercy, a work of pure loving kindness, wholly gratuitous. If, in fact, there is anything due from God to the creature, it is in virtue of some gift that has preceded it…If he owes it to Himself to grant us grace necessary for salvation, it is because He has first given us the grace with which to merit. Mercy, or pure goodness, is thus, as it were, the root and source of all the works of God; Its virtue pervades, dominates them all. As the ultimate founder of every gift, it exercises the more powerful influence, and for this reason it transcends justice, which follows upon mercy and continues to be subordinate to it. (ST Ia, q 21, a.4.)
In the light of this teaching of the Angelic Doctor, such sandbox assertions as “Jesus loves us just the way we are” are shown in all their embarrassing shallowness.
Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange expounds further on St. Thomas’ teaching in his rich masterpiece Providence:
If in this present life divine justice gives to each of us whatever is required for us to live rightly and so attain our end, mercy, on the other hand, gives far beyond what is strictly necessary, and it is in this sense that it surpasses justice…Out of pure goodness from the very day of creation He has granted us to participate supernaturally in His intimate life by bestowing on us sanctifying grace, the principle of our supernatural merits.
Again, after the fall, he might have left us in our fallen condition so far as justice is concerned. Or he might have raised us up from sin by a simple act of forgiveness conveyed to the mouth of a prophet after we had fulfilled certain conditions. But He has done something infinitely greater than this: out of pure mercy he gave us his only Son as a redeeming victim, and it is possible for us at all times to appeal to the infinite merits of the savior. Justice loses none of its rights, but it is mercy that prevails.
Properly exalting mercy should not shield us to those who have neutered mercy. Mercy has undergone a makeover at their hands. In the past decade or so it has come to take on a no-fault coloration, perpetrated by some of the most highly-placed prelates in the Catholic Church. They have drained mercy of its true meaning. To them, mercy comes from a God happy with man and all his sins. This is a mercy turned into a lie, a cruel parody of divine truth.
Mercy is offered to those who crave forgiveness; those who express profound contrition; those who possess a deep horror of sin. When the hands of a sinner are held out with all these dispositions, Divine Mercy rushes in like a tidal wave.
The Divine Mercy is not a promiscuous thing. It is always searching, always on the watch for the smallest regret for sin, not excuses for sin. Nowhere is this expressed more poetically than in G.K. Chesterton’s The Innocence of Fr. Brown. Fr. Brown is explaining to the Inspector how he apprehended the thief:
Father Brown looked him full in his frowning face. “Yes,” he said, “I caught him, with an unseen hook and an invisible line which is long enough to let him wander to the ends of the world, and still to bring him back with a twitch upon the thread.”
That “twitch upon the thread” is the always roaming eye of God, whose mercy seeks the least bit of contrition to lavish His mercy. Quite different than the cartoon version of mercy on offer from the clerics of “Jesus loves you just the way you are.” This is a mercy that rewards a bare-knuckled struggle for fidelity to Christ. His is a mercy that looks for the tears of the Magdalene or the sobbing of an Augustine. The Divine Mercy is not a promiscuous thing. It is always searching, always on the watch for the smallest regret for sin, not excuses for sin. Tweet This
The clerics who persist in the bilge of “Jesus loves us just the way we are,” are twisting the Catholic faithful into religious stooges. Beneath the weight of such kitsch, it doesn’t take long to recognize there is no need of a Savior, or His Church, of Redemption, or of the Sacraments. Religion becomes but the moment of supreme togetherness and self-realization. Religion becomes a mutual admiration society; Jesus admires me; I admire Jesus.
Assisted by the lounge music that accompanies most parish Masses, the circle is complete. No surprise that Catholics have made their own the propaganda of the Woke culture. The doctrinal vacuum created by the spirit-of-Vatican-II cognoscenti leaves them no choice. Much of Catholic America has become its rear guard. And armed with unvarnished stupidity such as “Jesus loves you just the way you are,” there is no relief in sight.
Take a moment and observe the Synod on Synodality, and watch Catholicism melt before your very eyes.
Truth be told, this is “just the way we are”: prisoners of sin. Even when we have been bathed in the graces of Confession, we are hostages to the wages of concupiscence. So it is that Mother Church calls us by our proper name, “poor sinners,” or “poor banished children of Eve.” Our whole existence on earth is, in the trenchant title of Dom Scupoli’s classic, The Spiritual Combat.
The Savior is called precisely that because He comes to save us from our wretched fate. That is “the way we are.” He pities us because we are the way we are. What is the meaning of His summoning words, “Come to me all you who labor and are burdened…” except to relieve us of the affliction of existing “the way we are.” The lie that falls so easily from the lips of Catholics today implies that the Savior is happy with the “way we are.” He isn’t. But because He loves us, He shows us pity and then mercy. And then He shows us the way forward, so different than the way we were on before.
The soul of man was made for the infinite grandeur of God. In St. Augustine’s memorable words, “Thou dost excite him that to praise Thee is his joy. For Thou has made us for Thyself and our hearts are restless till they rest in Thee.” This is man’s most noble patrimony: to seek God in His majesty with only the poor gift of our contrition. That, my dear reader, is sadness at not being the way I should be.
That overpowering reality clothes man with a kind of royal identity. Recall the father of the Prodigal Son upon his son’s return: “bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet; and bring hither the fatted calf and kill it and let us eat and be merry” (Luke 15:22). Exchanging this for the low lie of “Jesus loves you just the way you are” reduces man to rags. It abandons the Prodigal Son to feasting on the husks of pigs. This is prizing graffiti to Fra Angelico.
No. Jesus does not love you just the way you are.
For God does not play such dirty tricks.