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Sunday, November 14, 2010

Catholic Persecution

Homily – Deacon Pat

Luke 21:5-19 (33rd Sunday Ordinary Time)

We just heard in Luke’s Gospel some disturbing words. Jesus tells us:

1. Many will come in Christ’s name, but don’t be deceived.

2. There will be wars and insurrections.

3. Nations will rise against nations.

4. There will be powerful earthquakes, famines, and plagues.

5. And you will be persecuted because of your faith.

He even stated that some of your parents, brothers, relatives, and friends will turn against you, and some will even want to put you to death! Then he states: “But not a hair on your head will be destroyed. By your perseverance you will save your lives.” So what is the message for us today? Well, I think we should begin with reflecting on this issue of persecution.

Are Catholics persecuted in our world today?

Are we persecuted for being catholic right here in Redding?

I think the answer to these questions and to the reality that surrounds our lives, has a lot to do with our current state in life, the truthful evaluation if we are seriously living an authentic Catholic Life. If we sincerely believe in the person and existence of Jesus Christ, his message, his teachings, then wouldn’t we expect to be in conflict with many of the people who in our world today? The same people who reject religion, reject morality, and immerse themselves in sin.The very things that happened during the time of Christ, and the time of the early church are still happening today. There really is a war between good and evil!

If you hate abortion, the death to innocent children, the life-long emotional and spiritual scaring to the parents who abort, and you voice your disapproval – that immediately makes you a target of the misguided pro-choice people.

If you proclaim the church teaching on homosexuality and the sinfulness of not restraining abnormal impulses, you are then chastised for being intolerant, judgmental, and inhumane by gay activists.

If you speak out or object to the Pagan approach our government takes regarding the education of our children on moral issues, you will be ostracized, demeaned, and persecuted.

If you voice your discontent regarding the pornography that has become commonplace within Television, and Movies approved for children as young as 13 –You are quickly dismissed for being a radical and an extremist.

These are but a few examples, there are many more, and persecutions take on many different shapes and forms.

My question to you is: Do you find yourself persecuted for your beliefs? If so, isn’t that what should be expected for a Catholic living in a world with such a distorted view. If Not, if you don’t find yourself amongst the persecuted, does that mean that you don’t look much different from the world around you. Does that mean that your life, your actions, and your relationships don’t visibly conflict with the immoral, unjust, and corrupt society that represents such a large portion of our world today?

Yes, this is a strong message. And it takes great humility to look at ourselves truthfully. To avoid self-justification, rationalization, and to honestly evaluate and judge. To judge ourselves in such a way as Christ would look at us.

The Gospel message today is strong and intense, but if you listen carefully, it also contains a promise of good news. Jesus promised that you are not to fear, that when persecuted and confronted, when asked to defend your beliefs and actions, there would be no need to prepare a defense a head of time, For Christ himself will give you wisdom. In other words, he will arm you with the truth, His truth. Yet, even with such truth, Jesus warns us that we will still be judged unfairly, we will be persecuted, that is our cross, but it doesn’t change the truth. We are to cling to the truth, the teachings passed onto us through the Bishops, united with our Holy Father and the Magesterium, then we have the wisdom of Christ Himself.

Christ tells us: “You will be hated by all because of my name, but not a hair on your head will be destroyed. By your perseverance you will secure your lives.” Are you hated by anyone, if so, I hope it is because of your faith and what our faith stands for……  Wasn’t Jesus hated by Many?

I can remember a few years ago, speaking to an elderly priest, a holy man, actually a monastic hermit, and about our journey here on earth, our Christian journey. He stated that the world that we live in is like a river, and the current that flows within the river is like the culture that surrounds us. He stated that as Christians, especially Catholics, we must constantly swim against that current; that is what living a life of virtue, of good character, of Christian values, demands of us; to fight against the sin of the world. Yet, as soon as we stop fighting, as soon as we loose our fervor, as soon as become complaisant, we quickly become absorbed into the current, and begin to flow with the culture within it. This wise, holy man pointed out; It takes no effort to flow with the culture, because even dead fish will float downstream.

I will close with these simple but powerful questions; Are you swimming against the immoral, unjust, and sinful culture? Are you persecuted by those around you because of your faith, your belief in Christ, and your faithful adherence to the teachings of our church?

Or, are you….. just floating along……..

The message today in not one of Depression and Despair, but one of Hope, Truth, and Assurance. Today, many will hear reassurance that their fight against evil, their persecutions, and their endless struggles against immorality is exactly what Christ proclaimed would occur. It is exactly what Christ promised if we were to join the ranks of Christians. For others: who humbly and honestly identify that they have little to no persecution in their lives, might just hear a wake-up call, a call to action, a call to begin participating in the fight against evil.

The Gospel is “The Good News” for all who believe and accept it.

For all who embrace it.

For all who choose to pick up the cross and Live it!

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