Thursday, January 10, 2019

LIVING IN THE NEW REALITY OF WAR – PART 5


                                       

                         BEING GOOD SOLDIERS OF CHRIST, AS LIVING ICONS OF TRUTH



So you, my child, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And what you heard from me through many witnesses entrust to faithful people who will have the ability to teach others as well. Bear your share of hardship along with me like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. To satisfy the one who recruited him, a soldier does not become entangled in the business affairs of life. [2Tim.2-4]

Soldiers, like all military personnel, are sworn to protect the people, to do battle against the enemy, even to laying down their lives.

These words of St. Paul are applicable in our own day. He is not calling us to be soldiers in terms of methods used by the military to defeat an enemy, for example the use of lethal force. He is calling us to fidelity to our baptismal oath, fidelity to the Gospel of Christ, the Gospel of Life and Truth, fidelity to our vocation within and flowing from our baptismal vocation to be proclaimers of the Gospel with our lives without compromise while living within this world, this culture.

Being a good soldier means trusting and living out this from Christ’s prayer to His Father at the last supper: I speak this in the world so that they may share My joy completely. I gave them Your word, and the world hated them, because they do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world. [Jn.17:13 ff.]

People often say how overwhelmed they feel under the weight of this culture of darkness and death. To borrow a military phrase, we all are suffering “battle fatigue.”

Not least because: Our enemies are trying to wipe us off the face of the earth, literally. Our enemies are not at the gates; they are inside the gates. The enemies of Christianity are trying to ensure that Christianity has no future. [1]

A major cause of battle fatigue is the very human, and understandable, need for acceptance by others, added to which for some Catholics and other Christians, there is a persistent mythology that in ages past we were not only accepted but admired, even dominant.

There are a few crumbs of truth in that mythology, but just a few. Martyrdom, by blood, oppression, rejection, is more normative than acceptance and dominance.

All Christ’s teachings on the Church are teachings about the power of littleness: the mustard seed, the leaven, a cup of water, salt, light, ordinary acts of charity such as giving food to someone who is hungry, the grain of wheat: [cf. Mt. 5:13-16; 10:42; 13: 31ff; 25:31ff; Jn. 12:24]

If we do seek to live lives of faith, hope, love, peace, active charity, with a sense of fulfillment, as both good soldiers of Christ and a bulwark against the culture of darkness and death it means taking up our cross each day, following Christ and as St. Paul teaches, we are called to make up in our lives: …. what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of His body, which is the church…[Col. 1:24], the ‘what is lacking’ is our willingness to take up the Cross each day, follow Jesus, be in every moment one with Him.

What makes this difficult is what we take in from the surrounding culture of darkness and death through various media, the music we listen to, the books we read, etc.

Garbage in, garbage out.

We have the treasuries of Sacred Scripture, access to Holy Mass, Holy Communion, Confession, adoration, the assistance of Our Lady, the Angels, to music, art, literature which uplifts.

Beauty in, beauty out.

It is our choice.

Do we take in what vivifies or what wearies?

A human tendency which satan uses to disrupt and discourage is having us look back at some point in history, in the life of the Church, the nation, our family, our own lives through frankly, as the saying goes, ‘rose coloured glasses.’

Instead of dwelling fully in the present moment, which is the precise moment in our lives where Christ is with us, we pine for some other moment, or regret, without trust in Divine Mercy, some previous moment.

What a waste of time and grace!

Our sanctification, our deepening our union with Christ, fulfilling our vocation, accomplishing the will of God in our lives, defeating satan, the real enemy in this reality of war, proclaiming the Gospel of Truth and Life with our lives, takes place in, and only in, this precise moment.

This precise moment is both a sacred place and a threshold place. We step deeply into this moment from the previous moment and this moment is simultaneously a threshold into the next moment of grace.

Jesus said, “No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the kingdom of God.” [Lk.9:62]

From the moment of His Incarnation, through His birth, childhood, adulthood, public life, through the desert, the garden, on the Cross, in the tomb, in His Holy Resurrection, to this very moment Christ never looked back, never sought to somehow go back in time for any reason, rather He dwelt in and fulfilled the will of the Father for our redemption and to be with us in this precise moment.

He is the Good Shepherd leading us through every moment to the eternal moment, the unchanging yet for all eternity ever deepening moment of communion of love with Him, the Father and the Holy Spirit.

Remember the word I spoke to you, ‘No slave is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will also keep yours. [Jn.15:20]

Beloved, I urge you as aliens and sojourners to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against the soul. Beloved, do not be surprised that a trial by fire is occurring among you, as if something strange were happening to you. But rejoice to the extent that you share in the sufferings of Christ, so that when His glory is revealed you may also rejoice exultantly. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. Be sober and vigilant. Your opponent the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, steadfast in faith, knowing that your fellow believers throughout the world undergo the same sufferings. The God of all grace who called you to His eternal glory through Christ Jesus will Himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you after you have suffered a little. To Him be dominion forever. Amen. [cf. 1Pt.2:11; 4:12-14; 5:8-11]

We belong to God, and anyone who knows God listens to us, while anyone who does not belong to God refuses to hear us. This is how we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of deceit. [cf. 1Jn.4:1-6]

Paul Evdokimov reminds us of an adage which affirms: “The hour that you are living, the task that you are doing, the man whom you are meeting in this moment, are the most important in your life.”

The greater reality than the reality of the war we experience is that Christ Himself is already our victory, that greater than all the noise and hatred is the deep silence of God, which is the sound of His loving voice.

We dwell in moments of grace.





[1] The Biggest Lie In the History Of Christianity, Matthew Kelly, p.61; Kakadu, LLC, 2018

[2] The Struggle With God, Paul Evdokimov, p.213, The Paulist Press 1966



© 2019 Fr. Arthur Joseph