The unpersuaded


The tremendous success of the papal trip converted many, and puzzled others, but there remain those who will not be persuaded "if someone should rise from the dead."

The parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus (Luke 16: 19-31) is the only one of the 24 parables that mentions a proper name. Our Lord anticipated the raising of his friend Lazarus, which was the efficient cause of Christ's arrest. "If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone should rise from the dead." More poignantly, Christ is poorer than Lazarus: "Though our Lord Jesus Christ was rich, he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich."

Dickens most likely was moved by this parable when he wrote his Christmas Carol with the ghost of Jacob Marley returning to warn Scrooge about the course of his life. But in the parable, no ghost returns to warn the rich man's brothers, because they would refuse to believe. Such is the obtuseness of the human will: In the face of facts, some people withdraw into a parallel universe, like the rich man insulated behind his safe gates. Emile Zola did that when he denied the actual miracle he had witnessed at Lourdes. The saints are likewise ignored by our media because they are a threat to the artificial lifestyle adopted by a synthetic culture slipping into the "netherworld."

In 1974, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn walked through Paris, bearing the scars of his years in the Gulag. He was a sign of contradiction against the intellectuals who were toying with Marxism without having to pay the price it exacted in the real world. One student at the Sorbonne said that in the few weeks Solzhenitsyn was with them, he exposed the superficiality of their existence. But many continued in their self-absorbed world of illusion.

So it was when Pope Benedict went to the United Kingdom. The media described a looming disaster, and the vitriol against the Pope shocked any fair-minded person. Even sympathetic voices said the trip should be cancelled, rather the way Peter tried to block the path of Jesus to Jerusalem. The singularly uninformed Roger Cohen of the New York Times speculated: "It remains to be seen whether a service Friday in Westminster Abbey, where the coronation of Henry VIII and Catherine was held, can ease tensions. I doubt it."

The tremendous success of the papal trip converted many, and puzzled others, but there remain those who will not be persuaded "if someone should rise from the dead." Like a bad weather forecaster, they will blithely continue with no mention of their hollow predictions. Some said the Pope should be denied "the honor of a state visit." In retrospect, it was the Pope who honored the land he visited, and we can adapt what Punch said when Blessed John Henry Newman was created a cardinal: "'Tis the good and great head that would honor the Hat. Not the Hat that would honor the head."




Father George William Rutler. "The unpersuaded." From the Pastor (October 3, 2010).

Reprinted with permission of Father George W. Rutler.


Father Rutler received priestly ordination in 1981. Born in 1945 and reared in the Episcopal tradition, Father Rutler was an Episcopal priest for nine years. He was received into the Catholic Church in 1979 and was sent to the North American College in Rome for seminary studies. Father Rutler graduated from Dartmouth, where he was a Rufus Choate Scholar, and took advanced degrees at the Johns Hopkins University and the General Theological Seminary. He holds several degrees from the Gregorian and Angelicum Universities in Rome, including the Pontifical Doctorate in Sacred Theology, and studied at the Institut Catholique in Paris. In England, in 1988, the University of Oxford awarded him the degree Master of Studies. From 1987 to 1989 he was regular preacher to the students, faculty, and townspeople of Oxford. Cardinal Egan appointed him Pastor of the Church of Our Saviour, effective September 17, 2001.

Since 1988 his weekly television program has been broadcast worldwide on EWTN. Father Rutler has published 17 books, including: Cloud of Witnesses - Dead People I Knew When They Were Alive, Coincidentally: Unserious Reflections on Trivial Connections, A Crisis of Saints: Essays on People and Principles, Brightest and Best, Saint John Vianney: The Cure D'Ars Today, Crisis in Culture, and Adam Danced: The Cross and the Seven Deadly Sins.

Copyright © 2010 Father George W. Rutler

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