Wednesday, November 18, 2020

The Right Response

Insane events do not necessarily call for insane responses, but that does seem to be what many people in America are doing today. If I had been told 30 years ago what the year 2020 would be like, I would have laughed and thought it was "conspiracy theory" doomsday stuff. It is funny how crazy ideas are only crazy until they come true (the best fantasy and sci-fi writers could not make this stuff up). Who would have imagined that politicians (and those who wish they were politicians) would use a sickness that has something like a 98% survival rate (according to the numbers that they are actually telling us!) to enforce draconian rules on American society? This is the exact kind of behavior that our forefathers were trying to get away from when they founded America!

So then, if "insane responses" are not what is called for today, then what is called for? Readiness, preparation, thoughtful consideration of the possible futures, and lots of prayer is what is called for. Have you asked yourself what you would do if the rulers said attending Mass is illegal (as many have already done in some places and are starting to do again)? I do not mean temporarily, but what if they said it was the new law of the land: no more religious observances? We would not be the first of God's people to be told that we cannot practice our faith. 

A few days ago in the readings for daily Mass, we were given a few of those "letters to the Churches" that Jesus had St. John send to some parishes in Asia Minor (Revelation chapters 2 and 3). We were only given a few of the letters for our readings, but it is worthwhile to go back and read all seven of them. They give us Jesus' words to Churches that are in the beginning of a persecution. He criticizes their compromises, encourages their faithfulness, and warns each of them that presumption of their status before God is foolish. No one is promised that their faith would never falter.

That is truly a message that each of us needs to hear today. It is so easy to say you agree and then point to "that guy over there" whose faith could falter (presuming that one's own faith never could). As with many things, an "insane response" would be either over-reacting or under-reacting. Both will have bad results, but an overreaction will unnecessarily place a target on your back. People will notice you far too soon. Yes, when we react to a collapsing society by insisting on faithfulness, they are going to notice us eventually, but you do not want to give them any assistance in that.

Some have also questioned where we draw the line in our obedience. Many times in Scripture we are told and given examples of God's people saying "no" to Caesar, Pharaoh and other tyrants. We always are to obey God first, but whenever the civil (or in these days "uncivil") authorities demand that we disobey God, then they lose and He wins. If there is a conflict, our submission to Christ takes precedence over our submission to the state. I am not saying anything new here; this can be found multiple times in God's written Word, and in Catholic theology.

A line has to be drawn in the sand, and that means a line has to be drawn in our hearts. This coming Sunday is Christus Rex (Christ the King); my favorite day in the liturgical year. We draw the line in our hearts when we recognize that Christ is King right now. This is true not just potentially or figuratively, but in reality. Many in the Church tend to downplay this truth because they are uncomfortable with the idea of any sense of triumphalism. Yet, Christ is triumphant -- He already conquered His enemies on the cross and is now working to place them under His feet (cf. 1 Cor 15:25 from the readings for this Sunday). Do you believe that?

An insane year does not call for insane responses, but acknowledging the authority of Christ over all things might seem insane to some (especially those who believe everything the media tells them!). It is not. It is the only response that faithful Catholics can have in days like this. America and many other countries are trying to commit suicide. We might not be able to stop it from happening, but we can survive it and come out on the other side with a strong faith. I say it once again: stand fast!