Wednesday, June 3, 2009

When the World is Against Us

God acts in mysterious ways. It may sound trite but is true. God indeed acts in mysterious ways. Look at his work of redemption for the world. After mankind rebelled against God and fell from grace, by His mercy God did not abandon us to our self deceit and our unwarranted rebellion. In time He sent His Son in the form of a human to teach us and to save us. But when Jesus the Son of God, God in the Flesh was born he did not choose to come among the powerful of this world. He could have chosen to be born in power and privilege, in a palace, perhaps to be the son of a Roman emperor or an oriental king; He could have been born to one of the high priestly families in Jerusalem. In fact many of His fellow Jews expected a conquering Messiah (the Anointed One, the Chosen), riding in a white horse, mustering armies and defeating the hated Romans in the battle field and reigning over an exclusive Hebrew Kingdom.

Instead He chose to be born in exile; to a family of modest means, to a young virgin and a local craftsman. His parents were indeed of royal blood (of a line more ancient and noble than that of the tyrant Herod or the Roman Augustus), but they had no political, economic or social power. They lived in the periphery of the Hebrew society of their day, residing in an obscure village in the countryside of Galilee, a region despised by “politically correct” Jews. The Creator of the world, the God of the entire universe, the wonderful Word made flesh came to earth as a modest craftsman who for many years of His life worked with his hands to earn His bread. He that was originally in the presence of the Father, in majestic glory and splendor, He who lacked nothing and had absolutely everything emptied himself of all to share in our humanity. He worked, suffered, tired, hungered and became one of us even shedding his immortality to taste death. Jesus was an unlikely man to change the world, and yet He did.

And in His mysterious ways the Lord chose twelve fallible men to start His Church. One betrayed Him and the others deserted Him for a time after His arrest, trial and crucifixion. And yet these men later went throughout the world boldly spreading the message of the Gospel of their Master. This bunch of unlikely fishermen, tax collectors and zealots founded a movement that now spans two thousands years of history. And later the movement they founded of pacifists, slaves, and humble followers from all walks of life, who had renounced the power and glory of this world, shook everything. They ware killed, executed, exiled, despised, denounced and persecuted. With no weapons or worldly power they in the end conquered the conquerors. The mighty Roman Empire became Christian. Throughout history of Christ’s grace and salvation these people come from the most unlikely places. Jesus Christ acts through a myriad of witnesses who in their majority are weak vessels according to the rulers of this world. From the early martyrs passing through saints like Catherine of Sienna, Francis of Assisi, Anthony of Padua, Theresa of Jesus and many, many others, the Church survives in the weak and the poor.

For a while the Church had great worldly power, a dispensation given by God to allow the spread of the Gospel, but today we are again in the fringes; in America today to be faithful to the Gospel of Christ and his commandments means to be persecuted and despised. The road to persecution has started already and will only get worse; it is still mild but the signs of the times are now evident. Today if you do not espouse the ideologies of the world (The New World Order would say some) you are exiled from polite company. To be against abortion, euthanasia, legalized prostitution, homosexual activity and so called gay marriages, to fail to be “tolerant” means that you will not be tolerated.

A momentum is gaining in our society to criminalize any action that will “offend” the accepted orthodoxy of the world. Feminists, homosexuals, atheists and all others will have their day in the sun. We as Christians should not fret. We should not stop loving these people by telling them that their lifestyles are leading them in the road to perdition. We should realize that when the Church looses all temporal power, when it is persecuted, when it is despised, when it sheds the blood of the martyrs, that is when the Church is more powerful than ever. The One who will come at the end of the age is with us and His are the victory and the glory and the power forever, amen. They may choose one day to kill our bodies but our souls will live forever in Christ and one day we will return with Him when He brings justice to the universe. The field of salvation is watered by the blood of the martyrs.

Let’s not fret our loss of “social status”. Let’s not regret that our bishops are not invited to the circles of power. Let us count as nothing the rubbish of worldly power and success. Let us not even regret that there are many wolves devouring our sheep dressed in sheep skins and let us not fret that there are thieves among the Lord's flock. Let us rather be faithful to Christ and his Church. Let us work with much tears and trembling for our salvation. Let us be at peace knowing that our discomfort on earth is nothing compared to our eternal destiny with Christ. They can keep their universities, their congressional seats, their position of power of influence and their billions of dollars. They will not take one cent to heaven. Social status and power will count as nothing in the justice court of His Eternal Majesty. Let us pray, let us be strong in our weaknesses. Let us lead the lives that our martyr ancestors did, let us look upon the saints, upon the example of Mary and most of all, let us look upon our Lord Jesus the Christ, the only one and true King of the Universe.

God acts in mysterious ways. And today when the world turns to evil and unfaithfulness He is still at work in His Son and His Church. He will call to account those who today despise and persecute His Church and have rejected Him.

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