Sunday, October 17, 2010

Preaching in an inconvenient time

"There was a judge who neither feared God nor respected men" - this man in the Gospel reading is an appropriate description of many powerful men and women both in politics and in media who have pitted themselves against the Church on this present issue of the RH Bill. The way they shrug off any threat of excommunication and the mockery they bring into the House of God are clear indications of the absence of the fear of God in their hearts. This absence of the fear of God is an expression of contempt for the Lord - a contempt that should reveal to us the real powers behind this controversy: "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in (high) places" (Ephesians 6:12). Indeed, just as "Amelek came and waged war against Israel", so the Church's enemies wage war against her. And this is indeed a fierce battle that is not only funded by international business magnates and governments ( 430 million pesos is being set aside by the Philippine government for the purchase of artificial contraceptives for distribution) but is also supported by political power because the whole weight of the law is being placed behind it. This only shows that we do not only have powerful and influential enemies in both the government and the media. Behind them is a more powerful and infernal enemy - the Devil himself!

The world as we know it is sliding into paganism and the contempt of the Gospel is a clear manifestation of this. Far from being discouraged, we should rather see this situation as an appropriate reason for engaging in mission work. The Holy Father, in his message on World Mission Sunday today, reminds us that "the commitment to, the task of, Gospel proclamation is a duty of the whole Church , 'by her very nature is missionary' (Ad Gentes, n. 2). " St. Paul reminds us through his letter to St. Timothy, "I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus...proclaim the Word, persist in it whether it is convenient or inconvenient; convince, reprimand, encourage through all patience and teaching." Admittedly, today is a difficult time, an inconvenient time, to preach the Gospel because it is often met with skepticism, disguised as "academic advancement." The Gospel is often portrayed as old and outmoded, as irrelevant to the modern times we live in. However, we must persevere in proclaiming it because it is the only hope that can extricate humanity from the confusion it finds itself immersed in. "The loss of contact with God's wise design is the deepest root of modern man's confusion..." (John Paul II, Evangelium Vitae, 22.) Modern man finds himself drowning in practical materialism, individualism, utilitarianism, and hedonism. St. Paul gives an appropriate description: "And since they do not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a base mind and to improper conduct" (Romans 1:28). He was at that time describing the pagan world before it met the Christ. Unfortunately, this same world which has already met the Christ in now sliding into its former situation. Thus, the Holy Father reminds us that "the people of our time, too, even perhaps unbeknown to them, ask believers not only 'to speak of Jesus' but 'to make Jesus seen', to make the face of the Redeemer shine out in every corner of the earth before the generations of the new millenium and especially before the youth of every continent, the privileged ones to whom the Gospel proclamation is intended. They must perceive that Christians bring Christ's word because he is the truth, because they have found in him the meaning and the truth for their own lives."

How do we proclaim the gospel at this most inconvenient time? St. Paul says, "Remain faithful to what you have learned and believed..." Our fidelity to the teachings of Jesus is the way by which we can make the face of the Redeemer shine out in every corner of the world. And this is not easy. Fidelity to him means swimming against the tide of the modern world. It means making a counter - cultural stand for the truth. I say counter-cultural because the teaching of Jesus is truly opposed to the movement of the of the world. We must insist on refuting and correcting the false assertion of the world. We refute and correct with the Scripture which is inspired by God. And of course, because our battle is against principalities and powers in high places, we need to raise our arms to God in prayer in the very manner Moses did in the first reading. Without God's help, we can do nothing. Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.

The Lord assures us that he will answer our prayer. God will secure the rights of his chosen ones who call out to him day and night. His justice will surely come for he is faithful. There can be no doubt about it. But will we be found faithful? Will we be found persevering in this faith of ours? Will we remain faithful to what we have learned and believed? Jesus said, "I tell you, God will see to it that justice is done for them speedily. But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?"

No comments:

Post a Comment