I was in a Catholic bookstore the other day when I overheard a conversation between a customer and a sales associate. In discussing a various authors of devotional booklets, the bookseller compared one to Thomas Merton. "Oh, no. I don't like him as much," the customer said, "he can be harsh. It might be alright for someone living as a monk, but regular Catholics have lesser standards to live by." (I don't think the bookseller agreed with that assessment.)
Hearing this I had to wonder what the customer would make of some of Jesus' statements in the Gospels! "Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword." (Mt 10:34) or "I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!" (Lk 12:49). There are many other such words of Jesus. Aren't they a bit harsh?
And what, I wonder, are these lesser standards? A little sin is OK? A smidge of adultery? A bit of lying? A pinch of stealing?
Apparently books aren't the only things to watch out for in Catholic bookstores! Hmm, I hope that's no too harsh...