We Have Hope
October 5, 2014
27th Sunday in Ordinary Time
The world is shocked, horrified, revolted and incensed by the violent murders of members of the press corps…and even more sickening…aid workers who traveled to the region on missions of charity. ISIS, labeled radical Islamists by some, might be better identified as radical evil. And if it is even possible to quantify evil, isn’t what we see unfolding in Syria and Iraq on par with the evil that Jesus describes in the parable set out at Matt. 21:33-43?
The plain meaning and purpose of this parable seems to be an effort on the part of The Lord to prepare His followers for what would happen to Him on Good Friday, and what might well be their fate if they continue to follow Him. (A fate, by the way, that Christians around the world, not just in the Middle East, continue to suffer even today.) But if we dig deeper, there seems to be a lesson, as well, about God’s persistence in offering us every opportunity to do the right thing. With that, there also seems to be the suggestion that some people are persistent in their rejection of God’s will and God’s ways.
If we lay this passage beside recent headlines, it reinforces the truth that even as God is unchanging, so are some humans. If this is the case, it seems extremely unlikely that we will live in peace, free from the threat of war, terror, and violence…until Christ returns in glory. This might seem like a hopeless situation, which, of course, is the first victory that terrorists are eager to claim. Evil targets hope…a cornerstone of our Christian faith.
And so this weekend, it is important that we pay special attention to our Second Reading from St. Paul’s Letter to the Philippians (4:6-9). The passage begins with words that are particularly relevant in these dark and dangerous times: “have no anxiety at all…the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”
Notice that St. Paul does not specifically mention our bodies. We can’t be naive. We need to be vigilant about our homeland security, and, as a great nation, we need to do what we can to protect those defenseless victims of radical evil who do not enjoy the relative safety with which we Americans are blessed.
What Paul seems to be telling us is that within our in spiritual arsenal, readily accessible to us in times of danger, is the most important weapon…hope! Whatever it might be that terrifies us, whatever form radical evil might take, if we keep our focus on Christ, Who is Truth…perfectly just and unconditional love…our hope will not be shaken and our hope will sustain us. Only when we lose hope in Christ is the battle lost.
How do we best deal with the radical evil that surrounds us? Just “keep on doing what you have learned and received and heard and seen”…in Christ Jesus. And be assured that no matter how persistent radical evil might be in its efforts to destroy peace in our world…God will protect the peace of Christ that He has placed in our minds and in our hearts.
Finally, remember that October is the month of the Rosary. This is a perfect time to make a committed effort to pray the rosary…as a family…asking God for as much peace as we might know in this world…while we wait for the Prince of Peace!