|Bad Joke. Bad, bad, bad|
|Written by Michael Fones|
|Tuesday, 17 April 2007 09:34|
A friend sent me this joke the other day via e-mail. It's a fairly common genre, but I read it a little differently yesterday.
An eye doctor, a heart surgeon and an HMO executive die and are in heaven. God asks the eye doctor why he should be let into heaven and the doctor explains to God that he helped people save or regain their sight. God says, "Welcome to heaven, my son."
God then asks the heart surgeon what he had done in life that should allow him into heaven. "I saved people from death from heart attacks and heart disease," the doctor replies. "Welcome to heaven, my son," God says.
God then turns to the HMO executive. God asks him what he was, and the man replies that he worked for an HMO. "Welcome to heaven, my son," says God, "but you have to leave in two days."
Why is this a bad joke? Not because it's a groaner (it is actually pretty funny and pointed). But notice the theology at its heart: salvation is something earned by being good, and conversely, hell is something earned by being bad. Relationship with Christ, belief in the salvific effect of his cross and resurrection, or even doing God's will in response to what God has done for me is not part of the picture.
Yes, I'm making a lot out of a silly little joke, but I'm reminded of an anecdote I heard about Peter Kreeft, who teaches in the theology department at Boston College, a little Jesuit school out east. He commented that for 25 years of teaching he has asked the students in one of his classes, "If you died today and were presented before God the Father and He asked you why you should be admitted into heaven, what would you say?" He lamented that year after year, students with eight to twelve years of Catholic education would reply something along the lines of this joke - "because I was good." Seldom, he said, was the name of Jesus mentioned. It seems remarkable that at every Mass we see the presider hold a cup of wine and hear him repeat the words of Jesus, "this is the cup of my blood, the blood of the new and everlasting covenant. It will be shed for you and for all SO THAT SINS MAY BE FORGIVEN..." and we still think we somehow earn salvation. Perhaps we think we're still drinking wine, too!
We are being formed in a variety of ways, much of it subtle, much of it unintentional, like this joke. All the more reason for us to take formation of ourselves, our children, and all Catholic adults seriously!