“The Exhortation to the Apostles” (detail) by James Tissot

Be of Good Courage in these Dark Days

Being situationally aware is good advice for everyone, anywhere and anytime. When this advice is given, it usually is a reminder to be aware of what is going on around you—to be ready for any danger.

So, during these dark days in which we live, this is certainly good advice. But, what danger are we to be prepared for?

Death Entered the World Through Sin

In today’s second reading, St. Paul teaches us, “Therefore as sin came into the world through one man and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all men sinned…” (Romans 5:12).  Because sin is a reality in this world, so is death, toil and suffering.

Now certainly, each of us should take precautions against bodily harm from both accident, malicious physical and emotional threats from others, and from disease. Whether we seek good nutrition, preventative healthcare, and financial security on the one hand and safety from criminals, reckless behavior and nature on the other, Jesus warns us that these are not the dangers we should fear (prepare against) the most.

Fear Properly Directed

Jesus teaches, “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28).

In this section of his Gospel, St. Matthew records Christ’s words to the Twelve warning them of the coming persecutions. They would endure all sorts of dangers and attacks—only St. John would not be a martyr and live to an old age—yet Jesus told them not to fear those who could only kill the body. They had a mission to proclaim the Good News and Jesus prepared them for those whose opposition would lead even to their bodily death. Death does not have the last word, unless we permit the spiritual death of our soul and fail to allow God to reconcile us to Him.

Encouragement for Our Time

We live in increasingly dark days in terms of how the world views the Faith. More and more the truths we have been taught are considered bigoted and hateful. Not only our governments, but also people throughout society are refusing to allow Catholics and other people of similar moral and religious convictions the freedom to live according to these truths. Increasingly pharmacists are forced to fill prescriptions that violate their faith, obstetricians are told that they must perform or refer for abortion and to refuse to do so is a violation of basic medical care, bakers and events businesses are forced to serve or host ceremonies in violation of their consciences that celebrate sinful behavior.

It would be all too easy to simply go along to get along. Why fight it? The answer is in the words of Christ. We must speak the truth in the light. We must proclaim it from the rooftops. We are called to acknowledge Christ as Lord and lovingly proclaim His truth. To go along to get along is to love our bodily lives more than God, indeed more than those who do not embrace the truth.

Be strong, be true, be holy, be a light for Christ.

Into the deep…

Reflection on the Mass readings for the Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A) — Jeremiah 20:10-13; Psalms 69:8-10, 14, 17, 33-35; Romans 5:12-15; Matthew 10:26-33.

Into the Deep by Deacon Mike Bickerstaff is a regular feature of the The Integrated Catholic Life™.

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