An Unorthodox Orthodoxy Test

by | Aug 20, 2021 | Formation, Reflections

We hear much talk about orthodoxy these days. There are many litmus tests in circulation. Often, they tend to reflect the views of the composer. Depending on whose litmus test one uses, different people are judged to be “unorthodox.”

However, the following litmus test cuts across all political and theological divides. It has been doing so for centuries. By this standard, few of us are orthodox in our deeply held beliefs and actions. Oh, we might pass an orthodoxy oral exam. But how many can claim to actually lead lives reflecting this belief in daily life (technically called “orthopraxis”)? How many could point to more than isolated instances of acting on this belief? It frightens me to think of the personal implications.

The orthodoxy which follows is much more than a theoretical ideal. Two thousand years ago a man walked his talk. First, let’s listen to what he says. But as we listen to his words today, let’s remember his dying words… Father, forgive them. They don’t know what they are doing.

“But to you who hear I say, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.

To the person who strikes you on one cheek, offer the other one as well, and from the person who takes your cloak, do not withhold even your tunic.

Give to everyone who asks of you, and from the one who takes what is yours do not demand it back.

Do to others as you would have them do to you.

For if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do the same.

If you lend money to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit [is] that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, and get back the same amount.v

But rather, love your enemies and do good to them, and lend expecting nothing back; then your reward will be great and you will be children of the Most High, for he himself is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked.

Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. (Luke 5:27  ff.)

Do you believe this ideal… live it in your life? Think of the one who did

Jesus’ sermon on the mount is a  challenge. His dying words are even more frightening.

The everyday test of orthodoxy…

Honestly, I am not sure I can pass this orthodoxy test in even its daily minor manifestations. The Gospel Coalition pointedly observes :

When Jesus gave the command to love and pray for our enemies he knew it would one day require praying for Islamic extremist groups, like the Taliban, who murder his bride. Praying for the Taliban is not something we would choose. But it is what Jesus has commanded of us.

It’s also worth remembering that not all of our enemies are military or political, and not all are on the battlefield. We may encounter them in our homes, our neighborhoods, or online. The most personal and hate-filled battles of the 21st century are often waged on a keyboard.

Pray for those we disagree with…those who hurt us?

Jesus teaches us to pray that Our Father forgive us as we forgive others.

Pray that all of us can put away the sword.

The website Aleteia offers thoughts on how to pray for your enemies.

Let there be peace on earth… and let it begin with me.


This post first appeared on Vincentian Mindwalk