Homily for July 7th, 2016:
“Do not take gold or silver or copper for your belts; no sack for the journey, or a second tunic, or sandals, or walking stick,” Jesus tells the Twelve as he sends them out to proclaim the
and to heal the sick. He wants those whom he commissions as his messengers to
travel light. They are to depend not on material resources, but on the Lord
alone. Kingdom of God
Jesus’ words are especially relevant today. All over the world, the forces hostile to the Church are rising. In our own country the government is trying to impose on Catholic organizations, such as Catholic hospitals and universities, requirements which we cannot, in conscience, accept. We are being asked, for instance, to pay for sterilization and abortion. In
a historically Catholic country, there is even an attempt to pass a law which
would compel priests, in certain instances, to violate the seal of the
confessional. TV entertainers air gross jokes about Catholic priests which they
would not dare make about Muslim imams or Jewish rabbis. And the media show
little interest in reporting studies which show that Christians are the Number
One target of religious persecution in the world today. United States
We rightly lament this tide of anti-Christian and anti-Catholic sentiment. But it has a positive side as well. Whenever in its two thousand year history, the Church has been favored by worldly powers, whether financially or in other ways, it has grown spiritually flabby and weak. The Church is always at her best in times of persecution. When persecution is raging it is difficult, mostly impossible, to see this. Things become clear only when we look back. So let’s look back.
In recent centuries the most violent attack on the Church came in the French Revolution, which started in 1789 and lasted more than a decade. Thousand of priests were murdered under the guillotine. Most of the French bishops fled the country. Those who remained had to accept restrictions on their ministry which they justified on the plea that there was to other way to continue offering the sacraments to God’s people.
As the Church moved into the nineteenth century, however, there was an explosion of religious vocations in
and the foundation of an unprecedented number of new religious orders, for both
men and women. France
When we grow discouraged at the hostile forces confronting us, we need to remember: God can bring good out of evil – and he does, time after time!