A LIVING REBUKE

   We recently observed the 5th anniversary of the murders at Columbine High School in Columbine Colorado. You may recall the event of the two young killers gunning down their classmates in 1999. You may also recall that at least one of the killers was alleged to have asked one of his victims, a young woman named Cassie Burnall, if she believed in God before he shot her. Witnesses did report the incident, and that she responded "yes" before the young thug gunned her down.

   What you may not recall was the fury of the scribblers and opinion writers who were bent on proving that young Miss Burnall was not so questioned, and therefore did not have the chance to give the ultimate testimony to her faith. They were adamant that this brief exchange never happened.

   You see Miss Burnall was a devout Evangelical Christian. If that exchange of words actually took place, she would have been a genuine martyr. The media pundits completely ignored the satanic aspects of the killers' lifestyle. Yet they were wild with enthusiasm to ferret out every shred of evidence that might disprove anyone's noble sacrifice for the Christian faith. Her life before her conversion was thrown up for all to see.

   An even greater degree of fury was unleashed on Mr. Mel Gibson when preparing his film "The Passion of the Christ". He was dragged through the mud every way possible. One would think that most opinion writers would merely yawn at the thought of a religious picture in a foreign language. Instead the full force of venom, invective, and calumny was unleashed against Mr. Gibson. He actually wanted to make a picture that treated Christ faithfully and reverently, and for that they attacked him in a vicious fury.

   The combined circumstances of Miss Burnall and Mr. Gibson makes one pause and wonder. These two were not verbally attacked until they came to stand for Jesus. What is it about the person of Jesus Christ that fills some people with such anger?

   Our Lord himself knew full well when he stated "If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you." (John 15:18-19).

   It surely seems to be that way. The wicked hate the just. The Earl of Spencer once remarked "genuine goodness is threatening to those at the opposite end of the moral spectrum." The righteous person does not have to point fingers or call out the failings of others to make them angry. The Godly person does not have to do good works publicly, or be in anyone's face to anger the wicked. The mere fact that the goodness exists angers the wicked. The lifestyle of a true Christian shows up the failings of others. A true Christian is a living rebuke to the wicked.

   In the same way, the Church, which is the mystical body of Jesus Christ, is also a rebuke to the wicked. The more depraved our society becomes, the more it will hate the Church. And, since we are members of that mystical body, the hatred is directed at us. Whether we are silent or noisy, evil hates the good.

   Just knowing this principle makes us ready for it. We can't expect to be loved as Catholics. In fact we must expect just the opposite. We must expect to be insulted, hated, lied about, and attacked. That is our cross to bear.

   Although hatred of the teachings of Christ have always caused animosity, it is going to get worse very quickly. The issue of homosexuals demanding that their unions be called marriage has become center stage. Many evils have been presented as good in the past 40 years. This is the one that will destroy the fabric of society and wreck our children the fastest. We can not afford to be silent or passive. We can not just hope this issue will go away on its own. We can not bury our heads in the sand and pretend it doesn't exist. We can not leave it to others. If we don't speak out, this evil will conquer.

   Jesus has no hands on earth but ours. We must use our hands and hearts and voices to accomplish His will. We are called to be the Church Militant, not the Church milk-toast. Now is not the time for timid, quiet responses. We will speak out. We will not hide. We will not lie supine while servants of the enemy of our souls destroy our society. We will not shirk or falter. We will take up our burden. We will accept our cross; the hatred of the world.

   We know the fight is coming, so we have to prepare ourselves now. We must be ready for the barrage of ill-will which is sure to come our way. It will come and, to those of us who receive it, it will make the calumny against Mel Gibson look tame. We know it will come, but we can not refuse our duty. The words of Isaiah must be our motto. "I gave my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who plucked my beard; My face I did not shield from buffets and spitting. The Lord God is my help, therefore I am not disgraced; I have set my face like flint, knowing that I shall not be put to shame." (Isaiah 50:6-7)

   It is essential that we maintain ourselves in holiness, and fearlessly proclaim the truth so that we can "shine as lights in the world". (Philippians 2:15) In that way, the Church will remain a living rebuke to the wicked.

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Published by The Minnesota St. Thomas More Chapter of Catholics United for the Faith, May 2004.