May 6, 2013
Today’s readings: Acts 16:11-15; Psalm 149:1-9; John 15:26-16:4
There is not that much appreciation in the Church about spiritual warfare. There are those Catholics who do not even believe there is a real evil being named Satan. Many well-meaning Catholics try to tackle the ills of society, without being aware that behind them all is Satan. Thus they are ineffective in reversing the wrongs, since they are not addressing the real problem. Even in the work of evangelization, Catholics proclaim Christ, but are not aware that when they do, they automatically engage in spiritual battle. They face the diabolical forces of darkness, which are powerful and can inflict suffering and pain on them. When the enemy assaults and bloodies them, they become confused and discouraged, and may even retreat.
Then there are those Catholics who just want to feel good about their religiosity. They pray and get consolation. They attend recollections and get inspired. They do good works and get satisfied. They worship God and get secure. Well and good. But again, to live Christ is to share Christ, and to share Christ is to engage in war. Catholics ought to go forth “with the praise of God in their mouths, and a two-edged sword in their hands.” (Ps 149:6).
Now the war intensifies. Satan’s dominion has spread throughout the whole world. The tsunami of evil threatens to swamp all the nations. Oppression and persecution loom. “They will expel you from the synagogues” (Jn 16:2a). The anti-life, anti-family, homosexualist forces are out to destroy religion and faith, family and life. In the USA, prayer, crucifixes and The Ten Commandments are prohibited in public buildings. Same-sex marriage is being legalized and institutionalized. Those who stand on conscience against participating in abortions or gay adoptions of providing cakes for homosexual weddings are being charged in court, fined and jailed.
But things are going to get worse. Outright persecution of Christians, already happening is many African and Middle Eastern nations, is coming to western nations. “In fact, the hour is coming when everyone who kills you will think he is offering worship to God.” (Jn 16:2b). The US President Obama is pushing reproductive rights (read abortion and other abominations) on the nations. He has praised Planned Parenthood, that mass murderer the unborn. And he told them, “God bless you.” His god is Satan, and abortion is the sacrifice of children to Baal.
We are in war!
We need to intensify the work of evangelization, in response to the call to the New Evangelization. Those who assault Christians and their faith “will do this because they have not known either the Father or (Jesus).” (Jn 16:3). It is urgent that we make Jesus known to the world.
We do the very work of God, the work of the Spirit of Jesus whom he has sent. Jesus says that “the Spirit of truth …. will testify to me.” (Jn 15:26b). But the Spirit works in and through us, God’s human instruments. So Jesus further says, “And you also testify” (Jn 15:27a). We must proclaim Christ!
This is what Paul and his companions did. “We sat and spoke with the women who had gathered there.” (Acts 16:13b). They evangelized in the day-to-day circumstances of life. “One of them …. listened, and the Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what Paul was saying.” (Acts 16:14). The Lord opened her heart. It is God’s work. It is God’s initiative. But God uses human instruments. Very few, like Saul who became Paul, are spoken to directly by Jesus. For the rest, Jesus uses us to speak to them. We speak, they listen, and the Lord opens their heart.
The title of Psalm 149 is “Praise God with Song and Sword.” Catholics may not readily see worship of God side by side with war. But that is indeed the case. Song and sword; worship and war. We worship God for He is the Lord of all the earth. But there is a usurper who has dominion over the world. Him we engage in spiritual warfare.
The trumpets of war have been sounded. The New Evangelization has been proclaimed. It is fitting that we “sing to the Lord a new song” (Ps 149:1b). We “praise his name in dance, make music with tambourine and lyre” (Ps 149:3), and like the Israelite assault on Jericho, we also wield the sword of the Spirit.
God rejoices in the worship of His people, and God rejoices as His people go off to war to establish His dominion. “For the Lord takes delight in his people” (Ps 149:4a). And the outcome? God “honors the poor with victory.” (Ps 149:4b).
God bless you all.
“For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Phil 1:21)