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(Part 124)


April 13, 2015

Today’s readings:
Acts 4:23-31
Psalm 2:1-9
John 3:1-8

The call to the New Evangelization is in large part a response to the new paganism that is upon us in the world. Most Christians are no longer Christian. We live in a post-Christian world, especially in the West, where Christians are nominal and many are even antagonistic to the Christian faith. Most Christians today are baptized pagans.

How is such antagonism to the Christian faith manifested? “Why did the Gentiles rage and the peoples entertain folly? The kings of the earth took their stand and the princes gathered together against the Lord and against his anointed.” (Acts 4:25b-26). What Peter quotes is what David spoke of (Ps 2:1-2). What are the aspects of this assault on Christianity today?

  • “... the Gentiles rage ...” This is not just about the hatred for and massacre of Christians by radical Muslims in the Middle East today. This is true as well of the reproductive health and gender ideology forces, many of whom are supposed to be Christians. They are intolerant of religious freedom and particularly of Christian values. They will do anything to intimidate and bring down those who want to live their Christian faith, using social media or the secular courts.
  • “and the peoples entertain folly.” So-called Christians today have accepted contraception, divorce, abortion and same-sex unions. This has resulted in the disintegration of morality, marriage and family life. Today what was wrong has become right and what was right has become wrong, and traditional values that have brought stability and progress to society have been rejected. Folly indeed.
  • “The kings of the earth took their stand ...” Powerful forces are imposing the culture of death on the world. These forces are led by the US government, the European Union, elements of the United Nations, population control billionaires and international liberal media. Their intent is to impose their modernist agenda on the whole world. They will use all means at their disposal, including political, economic and military influence. The US for example has directed its ambassadors to promote the LGBT agenda as a primary element of its foreign policy.
  • “and the princes gathered together against the Lord and against his anointed.” Since this is a work of the evil one, the ultimate aim is to destroy the faith, or at least weaken it, to make it irrelevant in a secular and progressive world. Those who persist in living out their faith and refusing to conform to the norms of modernism can expect to be ostracized, oppressed, suppressed and persecuted. They will be sued in secular courts, fined, imprisoned, and forced to change their ways.

Making matters worse is that the faith is being assaulted not just from outside, but from within. Catholics themselves, including nuns, priests, bishops and cardinals, have bought into the liberal agenda. Thus the Christian faith and the Catholic Church are being hemmed in and assaulted from all sides. “Indeed they gathered in this city against your holy servant Jesus whom you anointed, Herod and Pontius Pilate, together with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel” (Acts 4:27).

Herod and Pontius Pilate represent the rulers of today’s world that want to impose a secular humanist culture. The peoples of Israel, including the Sanhedrin, represent Church people. Assaulted by radical Islamists, secular governments and even the enemy within, Christians are in a very dire situation.

And these hostile forces are not just “gathered in this city,” they are in all the cities of the world.

In the face of such dire circumstances, how can Christians survive, and even thrive?

Since most Christians are nominal, they need to be renewed in their faith. They must be “born from above.” (Jn 3:3b). They must be “born of water and the Spirit.” (Jn 3:5b). This happens in the sacrament of Baptism. However, many Catholics who have been sacramentally baptized are nominal, secular, liberal, and even antagonistic to the faith. And so their baptismal commitment needs to be renewed, as adults rather than as infants for whom godparents made the commitment. They need to repent and have renewed faith in Jesus, accepting him as their personal Savior and Lord. And they need to be baptized in the Holy Spirit. And so Jesus once again is telling us, “Do not be amazed that I told you, ‘You must be born from above.’” (Jn 3:7).

Those on whom the Holy Spirit descended on the day of Pentecost were radically transformed from fearful men to valiant apostles, from those who ran and abandoned Jesus to those who went to the cross for his sake. The Holy Spirit empowers and strengthens and gives endurance and perseverance. The Holy Spirit accompanies God’s people as they go on mission, providing them with what they need. “And now, Lord, take note of their threats, and enable your servants to speak your word with all boldness.” (Acts 4:29).

Since it is God who sends us to proclaim Christ, since it is God who equips and empowers us, since it is God who depends upon us to proclaim the gospel, then God will be there for us. We just need to connect with Him and maintain our relationship with Him, especially through prayer. God is the source of our power and boldness. “As they prayed, the place where they were gathered shook, and they were all filled with the holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.” (Acts 4:31).

And how about those powerful forces arrayed against us? “The one enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord derides them” (Ps 2:4). God’s power is supreme. Jesus has already won the victory. Thus for us in God’s army, “like a potter’s vessel you will shatter them.” (Ps 2:9b).

We are tasked to proclaim the good news to every creature and to make disciples of all the nations. It is God who sends us. We just need to present ourselves as His willing instruments, and ask for the victory that is already ours. “Ask it of me, and I will give you the nations as your inheritance, and, as your possessions, the ends of the earth.” (Ps 2:8).

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