Is Anybody There?

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit,' says Yahweh Sabaoth" Zach 4:6 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Dio di Signore, nella Sua volontà è nostra pace!" . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." Ben Franklin 1759

Sunday, October 12, 2008

A Reflection On Matthew 5:10-12 & 8:28-34

Observing a lot of the attacks on those who are protesting at various Planned Parenthood clinics, esp as a part of 40 Days for Life, attacks on those praying at the local PP office & personal attacks via some comments on this blog, a couple of scriptures came to mind that seem esp appropriate to reflect on. The 1st is from the Sermon on the Mountain:
"Blessed are those who are persecuted in the cause of uprightness: the kingdom of Heaven is theirs. Blessed are you when people abuse you and persecute you and speak all kinds of calumny against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven; this is how they persecuted the prophets before you." Matthew 5:10-12
As I already said, I have seen plenty of examples of the abuse, calumny & persecution of Pro- lately. When the letters about PP began appearing in the TH all the claims that Pro-life protestors use violence, intimidation etc to terrorize (& yes that is what they are implying) by pro-aborts surfaced, even though it can be clearly documented it is really the pro-abortion crowd who is guilty of those things. These lies are being used by PP in NY City to get the City Council to silence the pro-lifer protestors. Ask Joe Scheidler & the Pro-Life Action League about PP's use of RICO Laws to silence them. Or how Joe's son Eric & Fox Valley Families Against Planned Parenthood have been libeled by PP. PP has a new blog called Emily X that is supposedly written by a PP worker (I'll say more later about why I doubt it is really 1 person) that is full of the old lies & canards. Not surprizingly refused to print a comment by me that showed how much they lied. It is a propaganda tool to garner sympathy with lies about us. There have been verbal attacks on pro-lifers at praying at the local PP clinic.Then there are all the personal attacks I have recently had, name calling, insults etc.
Yes, I have seen plenty of persecution against those of us standing up for the "Culture of Life". Following Christ has brought us plenty of flack.
To put it bluntly, for most of us being persecuted doesn't exactly sound like a blessing, it sounds like a big hassle we could do without. Yes, it isn't fun. But, if you understand what Jesus is saying, then you can see how it is not only a blessing, it is a source of joy.
1st of all, if we weren't standing up & speaking out, if we weren't being faithful to our call to follow Christ, we wouldn't be undergoing these attacks. The fact that we are is a sign that we are following Christ & that we are doing what he wants us to do. Like the OT prophets were are standing up & being countercultural to the "culture of death"
Jesus warned us elsewhere to expect this sort of treatment by the world: "If the world hates you, you must realise that it hated me before it hated you." (John 15:18) he goes on it the following verses to develop this theme. When Jesus uses world in this case, He is refering to a world system. In our case, this system operates as the "culture of death". This culture hates us because of who we stand for, Jesus. So, it expresses that hate in persecution. The anger (verbal &/or physical) we see as a part of that persecution, is at it's root demonic. That is because at it's roots, the "culture of death" is demonic.
I am not saying that everyone who is involved in promoting abortion is demon possessed. What I am saying is those who have given their allegiance over to this culture have joined forces with Satan & his demons. They are following their lead &, yes at times, actually letting Satan work through them. & they have sold their souls to the devil. He may not actually physically possess them, but he & his demons control them.
This leads me to my 2nd Scripture I wish to reflect on. Pay special attention to Legion's reaction to Jesus.
"When he reached the territory of the Gadarenes on the other side, two demoniacs came towards him out of the tombs-they were so dangerously violent that nobody could use that path. Suddenly they shouted, 'What do you want with us, Son of God? Have you come here to torture us before the time?' Now some distance away there was a large herd of pigs feeding, and the devils pleaded with Jesus, 'If you drive us out, send us into the herd of pigs.' And he said to them, 'Go then,' and they came out and made for the pigs; and at that the whole herd charged down the cliff into the lake and perished in the water. The herdsmen ran off and made for the city, where they told the whole story, including what had happened to the demoniacs. Suddenly the whole city set out to meet Jesus; and as soon as they saw him they implored him to leave their neighbourhood." Matthew 8:28-34 (also Mark 5:1-20 & Luke 8:26-39)
Here & elsewhere in Scripture we see a violent reaction to Jesus by demons. His very presence is a torment to them. As Christians we are filled with the Holy Spirit & are "ambassadors of Christ". We have Christ living in us. So, when we bring Christ into these areas where Satan & his demons are operating, is it any surprize we get a similar reaction? NOT REALLY. Like I said, Jesus told us to expect a similar reaction.
Yet, like Jesus, we actually have power over Satan & the other evil spirits. We can fight back. Jesus death & resurrection has won us this victory. We simply need to tap into it. We do so through prayer & fasting. He has given us the weapons we need to do so. I have talked about some of them before, the Rosary, Divine Mercy Chaplet, fasting, Holy Water, Blessed Salt, vigil lights at Church. We need to be sure we are under the protection of the Blood of Christ. We are not to hate those who attack us, we are to respond as Jesus told us to, by prayer. We are to return love for hate.
Yes, persecution is anything but fun. It may be spiritual, it may be physical. It may even cost some of us our lives. But, it comes with the territory. The persecution is a part of the cross Jesus called us to daily take up. Papa Benedetto talked about this in his homily today at the canonization Mass for 4 new saints. He reminded us of how they took up their crosses as an example to us. & he talked about the reward they received that was mentioned in today's Gospel. It is that reward that is promised us when we are persecuted. The reawrd we will receive if we remain faithful despite any & all persecutions.
& in the end, if we are truly faithful we will see the blessings promised by Jesus. They may not be evident in this life. But they will be in the world to come, when we, like the newly declared saints are dressed in our wedding garments & join in at the wedding banquet of the Lamb & his bride. The banquet that is our reward promised us. (See today's readings from Isaiah 25:6-10 & Matthew 22:1-14 for more on that banquet.)
The 2nd reading at Mass today tells us how we can do so. In it (Philippians 4:12-14, 19-20) Paul is talking from experience. He has been persecuted. He has battled demons. His source of power was the same as ours, Jesus Christ working in us through the Holy Spirit. God will provide us with the strength & the power we need to act, the words to speak. This Spirit empowered the newly declared saints & enabled them to be victorious. This same Spirit will give us the strength to endure as well against any & all attacks. In the end, we will be victorious as well.
& that is why, in the midst of persecution we can "Rejoice and be glad"!!!!!!!!!!!

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