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Thursday, July 2, 2015

A return to the days of Nero

Like so many devoted Christians in the United States, I was dismayed by our recent Supreme Court’s decision to redefine marriage nationwide to include relationships between persons of the same gender. While not unexpected, it was nevertheless extremely disappointing. This is not the same country I grew up in. When a belief that has been held consistently by all the world’s cultures throughout history only until a decade or so ago, that marriage is only between a man and a woman, is suddenly considered to be the height of irrational bigotry, something has gone terribly wrong. We are not merely on a slippery slope as a society - we are already approaching the bottom.

But in the aftermath of the decision, and the subsequent jubilation by homosexual activists and their supporters, I am reminding myself that it is too easy to focus only on the tragedy of it, because it is indeed very tragic (I feel like I have witnessed a great multitude of my fellow citizens happily partake of a rainbow-colored poison) - but I have also been thinking that we who are Christians should go ahead and finally consider ourselves like those early Christians who were living in the pagan Roman Empire. Like them, we cannot look to our government or the culture around us to reflect our beliefs and values - we should instead fully expect vehement opposition to them, that is clear now. But at the same time, in the Church we must maintain fervent hope and joy in our Lord, and shine as witnesses (“martyrs” in Greek) to Him in these dark times, continuing to proclaim His beautiful design for marriage and family life. God is still in control, and great graces will flow from Him because of this seeming defeat, to the confounding of Satan. The early Christian community flourished even when it was surrounded by a wicked pagan culture, even when many believers were cruelly put to death for their faith. Where is pagan Rome now? (nowhere) and where is the Church? (worldwide!)

Whenever we are tempted to become fearful and disheartened as the world turns against us, as waves of secularism, relativism, and persecution crash upon us from all sides, let us bring to mind the Gospel account from Matthew 8:23-27, in which we are told “a violent storm” came upon the Apostles in their boat while Jesus, present there with them, “was asleep.” Let us put a serene trust in our Lord, even in the midst of many dangers, and not be like those fearful ones whom Jesus rebuked before He at last calmed the storm: “O you of little faith!”

Jesus is still Lord of Heaven and Earth, and He has glorious plans for His Church and for the world. A Crucifixion may await us as we follow Him, but a Resurrection will follow. Keep faith and hope alive, encourage one another in love, and pray for a new outpouring of God’s Mercy in this world for the conversion of many sinners.

O Holy Martyrs, glorious champions of Jesus Christ, pray for us!