Saturday, January 5, 2013

The Troublemaker

When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.
Matthew 2:3 

Tomorrow is the Feast of the Epiphany.   This was Christmas before there was Christmas.  In the early days of the Church, and still today in the Eastern Tradition, this was the great feast proclaiming Jesus' appearing (epiphany) in the world.  Today in the West we primarily focus on His appearing to the world in the persons of the magi who represent the Gentile world.  

While the story is familiar, something caught my attention as I was reading the Gospel for tomorrow's Mass.  St. Matthew records that Herod was troubled at hearing of the birth of our Lord.   Not only was he troubled, but so was "all Jerusalem".  Does that mean that if the king is not happy no one's happy?  Perhaps.  Or does it mean that Herod and the movers and shakers of society with him were equally disturbed at this news?  I'm inclined to believe the latter.  It's the same today.  Whenever the cultural elites hear the mention of His Name they are troubled.  This is the troublemaker.  All such troublemakers must be silenced.

This appears to be the agenda of our President.  The mandate of the HHS has more to do with silencing the Catholic Church than providing affordable health care for every American.  Who doesn't know that the Catholic Church stands staunchly against abortion, artificial contraception, and everything else that opposes life?  If the President is successful at getting the Church to either compromise or bow out of all public services then he will have essentially silenced them.  They may go on worshiping as they please within their churches, but they will no longer have a voice in the public sector- and that's exactly what the Herods of the world are after.  

It is incumbent upon all Christians that we show Christ clearly to the world.  The Epiphany is not just a day, or a celebration, but a lifestyle.  Jesus appears to the world through His people.  Despite the forces that work against us, we, relying completely on the Lord and His mighty power, are to continue living and ministering in the name of the Lord such that His message will never be silenced.  Penalize us, ostracize us, torture, or kill us they may but the Lord and His Church will always prevail.  It has always been so and it always will be.  

I have heard before that when our Lord came the first time He had to stand before Pilate, but when He comes again Pilate will stand before Him.  The same can be said of Herod and all who imitate him in every age.  

Our Lord's coming is troubling to those who love darkness.  May it not be so among us.   Rather, let us rejoice in His coming and embrace His presence. 

A most Blessed Epiphany to all!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

What's New In The New Year?

For a few years now I've been pondering something.  Why is it people get all excited about a new year?  Is it just because they think that it's a great opportunity to start over and continue with successes while putting failures behind to try again?  Perhaps.  Maybe it's just that I'm a natural born pessimist but I think to myself that, while I'm thankful for a new year and all the potential that comes with it, I realize that none of us can predict what will happen this year.  How do we know if 2013 will be a good year or a bad one?

I'm sure there are some who are thinking (perhaps rightly) that I am just being too sour.  They're much more optimistic and just know good things are in store for this year.  Perhaps they're right.  I'd like to think so. 

Let me say that I am not intending to go the other way as if it's a sure thing that we're in for it this year.  I don't mean to say that. In fact, I'm thankful for a new year and enjoying it so far.  It's just that I know none of us knows the future.  Really good things, really bad things, or a host of things in between could be coming our way.

So with a dose of what I like to call realism (as opposed to pessimism) I think we should come into this year, as any year (or any day, week, or month for that matter) with a sense of optimism and expectation, but also with a realistic sense that anything could happen.  And with that in mind, we find ourselves in need of continuing to grow in faith in the Lord.  Only He knows the future and is perfectly equipped to handle it. 

In closing let us consider these words from St. James: "Come now, you who say, 'Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and get gain'; whereas you do not know about tomorrow. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, 'If the Lord wills, we shall live and we shall do this or that.' As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. Whoever knows what is right to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin," (James 4:13-17).

So here's hoping 2013 is a great year.  But regardless, let us continue to walk by faith and not by sight.