Spiritual warfare is NOT some future event which will suddenly overtake us in the so-called ‘end times.’
These ARE, as every time preceding our own time since His Resurrection, Ascension and the gift of the Holy Spirit, the end times.
Spiritual warfare is the nitty-gritty of baptized daily life.
It is not the exclusive prevue of monastics, it IS reality for every one of us.
You cannot choose to be a conscientious objector, nor live as a non-combatant.
Either we are Christian soldiers or we will become that euphemistic bromide: collateral damage!
Our stark, and I suggest most urgent choice, is to choose if we shall be swept along by the tide of history, without participating in it actively as faithful disciples of Christ – or – choose through the strength and ongoing grace of Baptism to follow Jesus, to be with Him, fully engaged in the struggle between good and evil, life and death, to be true Christian warriors, passionate intercessors with and in Christ, crying out with Him to the Father for the fullness of Divine Mercy upon the whole world.
It is to choose to be with Jesus a sign of contradiction, thus living icons of hope, or to so blend in with the culture of death in its darkness we are invisible.
In many respects the entire Holy Gospel according to Matthew is a template, a battle plan if you will, for participation to the full in Christ’s spiritual warfare, and victory, over satan.
Matthew also presents us with the Gospel of compassionate love and truth.
When we gaze upon our brothers and sisters enslaved within the culture of death, become the ‘people in darkness’, yearning even if they are not sure they are, for light to shine upon them, not for us some gnostic holier than though egomaniacal attitude.
Ours should be hearts that are as His Heart, burning with love and hearts “…moved with pity for them because they were [are] troubled and abandoned, like sheep without a shepherd.” [cf. Mt.9:36]
One simple way of being engaged in this spiritual warfare, being living signs of contradiction and icons of light, life, hope, is to be proclaimers of the Gospel of Life, builders of a civilization of love, following the template Jesus Himself gives us in Matthew 25: 31-47 wherein Jesus makes everything so one-to-one personal between us and Him in the very person of all our brothers and sisters.
Of course spiritual warfare finds its primary battlefield within the depths of our own hearts and souls, and before we can courageously venture forth to the wider battlefield all around us we must first be fully, and constantly, engaged in this prime battle, this prime place of the struggle.
It is from this place that, if we struggle to be fully engaged and faithful, even if sometimes we get wounded in some skirmish, we will emerge graced and strengthened by the Holy Spirit with the purity of heart, the courage, prudence and discernment to face the great battles of the wider war.
We draw reassurance and courage throughout the battle from the blessing-promises, the guidance of how to be shining signs of contradiction from Jesus’ words: "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God. Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. [Mt. 5: 3-16]
In the ebb and flow we experience within the battles of spiritual warfare we can look around within the darkness of the culture of death and perhaps from exhaustion, the weight of cares, even temptation via poisoned thinking suggested by the evil one, and believe that the battle is not going so well for the side of the Gospel of Truth and Life.
Much like the infamous HAL in 2001 A Space Odyssey, the 1968 film, satan speaks to us a similar lie as HAL did to Dave, the lone surviving crew member on the ill-fated voyage: “Just what do you think you’re doing Dave? Look Dave, I can see you’re really upset about this. I honestly think you ought to sit down, take a stress pill, and think this over….”
At such times it is critical we remember we live within the reality of Christ’s victory over satan, sin, death.
There is in the 19th century hymn by William Chatterton Dix, ALLELUIA! SING TO JESUS, lines which powerfully express this abiding truth: “….His the victory alone….has redeemed us by His Blood….not as orphans are we left….faith believes, nor questions how….shall our hearts forget His promise, I am with you ever more.?”
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