FROM THE PASTOR
April 12, 2015
by Fr. George W. Rutler
The Risen Lord spent forty days structuring his Church and training his disciples for the work ahead of them. We may infer some of what he told them by what is recorded in the Gospel narratives and the apostolic letters. The Hebrew prophets had been part of the Resurrection drama, preparing the way even though they did not understand how their inspiration would be realized. Years after the Resurrection, Saint Peter would write of these prophets:
“The Spirit of Christ which was in them foretold the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would come after them, and they tried to find out at what time and in what circumstances all this was to be expected. It was revealed to them that the news they brought of all the things which have now been announced to you, by those who preached to you the Good News through the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, was for you and not for themselves. Even the angels long to catch a glimpse of these things.” (1 Peter 1:11-12)
The neat symmetry of God’s plan for his Church is glimpsed even in the way the Lord’s burial cloths were found meticulously folded in the empty tomb. “God is in the details,” and nothing is disordered in the way Christ orders events. He predicted the trials his Church would face in every age. There are those who find this so unnerving that they would ignore it.
One example is the way much of the “social media” and numerous political leaders downplay the persecution of Christians in many places today—and this also includes attempts to intimidate Christian witness in our own country. Recently, people foolishly (and some agitators by cynical calculation) were obsessed with what turned out to be false journalism about mayhem and raping in universities. Others, from congressmen to basketball players, spent weeks waving their raised arms in empathy with a shooting incident whose reported details proved to have been bogus. Yet there is an embarrassed silence about Christians being crucified, beheaded, stoned and shot in country after country.
At the papal ceremonies on Good Friday, the Holy Father’s preacher, Father Raniero Cantalamessa, lamented that the slaughter of Christians is taking place before “the indifference of world institutions.” He compared this with the third-century martyrs during the reign of Decius and said that those who affect indifference today “risk being Pilates who wash our hands.”
The motives of those who do not want to face the reality of the present persecutions may vary, and some may be more slothful than malicious. But the saints draw strength from knowing that the Lord knew all that would happen and promised joy for those who look to him and do not look away: “The hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God” (John 16:2).
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