When I think of the kingdom of heaven, I have found two directions I can take my meditation. “That eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man, what things God hath prepared for them that love him.” 1 Cor 2:9 This first consideration is the great veiling of heaven, which allows one to ponder and consider how every fine good thing in this life will be exceeded by the joys of Heaven.
The second considerations come from our Blessed Lords description of heaven: a banquet, a kingdom, many mansions, sitting down to table and the such like. Imagine the cheer, hospitality and joy of the Saints sitting down to supper together. The great anticipation of joy is felt in the heart at seeing of the austere Saints such as the Desert Fathers laughing, and the penitents rejoicing, the Martyrs playing games and the ever abiding kindness between all.
The Love of a perfect family in heaven, the never ending feast. Yet, it is easy to forget being separated from that perfect beatitude that those same Saints who enjoy each other in perfect charity now in heaven actually in their hearts have same love for us, even though we are often times far from lovable. .
And if it is easy to forget that the Saints love us despite ourselves, it is even easier to forget that they love our brethren in the Church as well, and that if we wish to be numbered among them we also must love them. “Honor all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God.” 1 Peter 2:17
There has not been a shortage of discussion of what level and amount of criticism is allowed of the Pope, Bishops, Priests etc. I think that is the wrong place to start the discussion - that is, how much can we criticize someone who holds a certain office? Rather, it should be what can we say and still “Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God” as this law comes before consideration of a persons office.
The words are simple enough; we must honor all men, and love each other as brothers. The Pope does deserve this treatment, but so do the Pope's critics (that is, to be critiqued in honor and love). The Pope, in one of his finest moments, called and thanked his critics.
What if it is us on the receiving end of criticism? What if it is us who are punished unjustly by those in authority? Saint Peter explains “if for conscience towards God, a man endure sorrows, suffering wrongfully. For what glory is it, if committing sin, and being buffeted for it, you endure? But if doing well you suffer patiently; this is thankworthy before God. For unto this are you called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving you an example that you should follow his steps. Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth. Who, when he was reviled, did not revile: when he suffered, he threatened not, but delivered himself to him that judged him unjustly.” (1 Pet. 2:20-23)
One of the great rewards found in doing this is that it is a great way of avoiding a harsh purgatory after death. “Blessed Margaret Mary received from our Divine Lord another communication relative to Charity. He showed her the soul of a deceased person who had to undergo but a light chastisement, and he told her that among all the good works which this person had performed in the world, He had taken into special consideration certain humiliations to which she had submitted in the world, because she had suffered them in the spirit of charity, not only without murmuring, but even without speaking of them. Our Lord added, that, in recompense, He had given her a mild and favorable judgment. ” Taken from the Free Catholic Audiobook: How to Avoid Purgatory
Often times it is our enemies that help us see if we are walking in the way of Jesus Christ. Our enemies test our patience, our virtue, our charity and our Love for Jesus Christ.
“DO NOT yield to every impulse and suggestion but consider things carefully and patiently in the light of God's will. For very often, sad to say, we are so weak that we believe and speak evil of others rather than good. Perfect men, however, do not readily believe every talebearer, because they know that human frailty is prone to evil and is likely to appear in speech. Not to act rashly or to cling obstinately to one's opinion, not to believe everything people say or to spread abroad the gossip one has heard, is great wisdom. Take counsel with a wise and conscientious man. Seek the advice of your betters in preference to following your own inclinations. A good life makes a man wise according to God and gives him experience in many things, for the more humble he is and the more subject to God, the wiser and the more at peace he will be in all things.” (The Imitation of Christ, Book 1 Chap 4, "Prudence in Action")
These godly commands and precepts do not just apply to one side of an issue or another, but to all who dare call themselves Christians. Correction and criticism can be made but, if it is to be made to anyone let it be done with honor and brotherhood in the fear of God. This applies to our enemies as much as we would expect it of ourselves.
To my brothers, God love you, bless you, and may He bring you to eternal life!