Sometime ago, a newspaper columnist shared with his readers a poignant moment in his life. This moment took place when he was drafted into the Royal Air Force and found himself in a military barracks for the first time with thirty other men. On the first night he had to make an important decision. He had always knelt to say his prayers. Should he now continue his reverent practice while under the scrutiny of thirty men he never met before? Deeply troubled, he finally said to himself: “Why should my life away from home begin by allowing other people dictate what I should do or not do?” He decided to kneel! He followed his normal routine and by the time he was finished, he realized that everyone had been watching him. And when he made the sign of the cross, he was aware they all knew he was Catholic.
Eventually, he learned that he was the only Catholic in the barracks. Yet, each night he knelt and prayed. He said that those ten minutes spent on his knees nightly led to many enlightening discussions with his fellow soldiers that lasted for hours. On the last day of boot camp, one of his barrack mates said to him, “You’re the finest Christian I’ve ever met.” He replied, “Well, I might be the most public Christian you’ve ever met, but I don’t think I’m the finest. Still, I thank you for what you said.”
This story encapsulates some of the points of today’s scriptural readings. Sometimes our commitment to Jesus will cause us to struggle, even be persecuted. And sometimes, it may even cause division among family and friends. Jesus tells His astonished listeners today, “Do you think that I have come to give peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.”
Do we suppose Jesus expected His followers to take literally, His statement of “father against son and son against father, and mother against daughter and daughter against mother?” Or was Jesus using hyperbole to emphasize an important lesson?
It is the second explanation most assuredly. Jesus is telling us that to place any relationship or anything else above God is idolatry! A true disciple loves God above everything else and is willing to forsake all and endure all for Jesus Christ.
So then, what moved the faith-filled airman to hold true to his Christian beliefs rather than compromise these beliefs in hope of receiving acceptance from his barrack mates? The answer lies in the opening words of today’s Gospel when Jesus says, “I came to cast fire upon the earth and would that it were already kindled!”
To fully grasp the meaning of Christ’s words, one must understand that in biblical times, the word “fire” was closely associated to God and His works. It is proper to assume then, that in today’s scripture Jesus uses the word “fire” to herald the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.
The Holy Spirit, also known as the Paraclete or Counselor is gifted to us at Baptism and establishes a permanent residence in our souls. This magnificent Counselor, who when adhered to, keeps us on the straight and narrow path to Jesus. The Holy Spirit illumines the Christian conscience.
In today’s true story, the Holy Spirit directed the young airman to hold true to his Catholic beliefs, regardless of the consequences. The Holy Spirit spoke. The young airman listened and his barrack mates learned what a true Christian should be.
In less than ninety days our next presidential election will take place. It is probably the most important one in our nation’s history. The direction our country is to take in a world growing more dangerous and sinister each day is at stake. At stake as well, is the controversial abortion issue, for at least three or four aging Supreme Court Justices will have to be replaced in the near future.
It will be the responsibility of the next president to make those appointments. Currently the Supreme Court has eight members, one less than normal resulting from the sudden death of Justice Scalia. These new appointments, therefore will determine the direction of the Supreme Court for the next thirty or forty years. Indeed, much is at stake here!
Therefore, it is imperative for all Catholics to hold true to our sacred beliefs when making our choice for the next president. We must allow the Holy Spirit to move us in the right direction, regardless of the sacrifices necessary. Not only should we vote pro-life, but also encourage others, especially family and friends, to do so as well. We should vote taking into account the most vital issues of our time.
Dear people, Christ’s Church is unequivocal in its stance on abortion. It proudly maintains that human life begins at conception and continues until natural death—death determined only by providential intervention. In other words, only God can create and only God can destroy. Still, in a world fraught by secularism, mounting decadence and growing global hostilities, thousands of innocent babies are aborted throughout the world every single day.
It is disheartening to know that more than sixty percent of Catholics voted pro-abortion in the last presidential election. Our pro-life voice must be heard now if we are ever to eradicate all attacks on human life and dignity. An innocent baby is not a burden and should be viewed and respected as the true blessing he or she is. Of course, those who perpetuate these despicable acts never advise the expectant mothers of the emotional and spiritual scars that will plague them the rest of their lives.
The reason we hear most from those supporting abortion is, “Because it is the woman’s body, she has the right to choose whatever she wants.” But what about the rights of the baby—the innocent one?
Catholic doctrine lays to waste this so called “pro-choice” argument. Only God creates life and as in the case of the Blessed Mother, a woman is chosen to love and nurture the new creation until it is delivered into the world and beyond. Providentially, an expectant mother has another human life within her. To deliberately destroy that life prior to birth is sinful.
Dear people, I encourage all of us to become knowledgeable voters. Let’s learn about the candidates and what their stances are on all key issues, abortion included, before casting our ballots. Then, with a clear Catholic conscience pull the lever. The Holy Spirit will help us!
The Lord scolded his apostles for preventing the little children from coming to Him. May we not prevent these innocent ones from entering the world. Rather, let’s welcome into the world every one of God’s vulnerable little ones.