Isaiah 10:5-7, 13b-16
Psalm 94:5-6, 7-8, 9-10, 14-15
All around me people complain about this official, that newspaper, or some group persecuting the church. What amazes me is that they are so surprised, so offended, as if such a thing had never happened before to the Church of the Crucified Christ!
Isaiah depicts God punishing the chosen people for their infidelity by using Assyria as his instrument. God’s purpose in punishment is always to wake people up and draw them back into a relationship with Him. If Assyria goes too far, God will abruptly render it powerless!
I cannot justify the hurtful attitudes and actions of others towards the Church. I know that some target the Church for reasons of their own. I notice at least three responses to these attacks. Some walk away from the Church often blaming the Church’s failures for their departure. Some fight back politically, publicly, offensively.
And some among us turn to God and ask, “What have we done? How have we failed you? Bring us back O, Lord! How long, O Lord?” (Ps. 79.5). These are the little ones who realize that they have not been perfect in their following of Christ, who know they are limited in their understanding and ability, and acknowledge that they need God to show the way.
According to Isaiah God used the Assyrians, who wanted to destroy God’s people, to chastise them. Is it possible that God is again using those who fear and/or hate us to call us back to a more conscious, humble faith and reliance on God’s guidance and support?
One too many rocks through their living room window led my Great Grandmother and my fourteen year old Grandmother to ask the superior of the local convent, “Why do people hate you Catholics so much? We aren’t Catholic but people think we are!” (My Great Grandfather was a “lapsed” Catholic). The wise Sister answered all of their questions, shared her faith with them, including her faith in Christ Crucified, and led them to Baptism. They led my Great Grandfather back to the practice of his faith. A broken window made all the difference…
Perhaps our perceived persecution is allowed by God as a call to acknowledge our halfhearted living of our faith, our baptism, and our vocation. Perhaps God is calling us to a deeper commitment…
- Fr. John M. Lee, C.P., Retreat Director, “The Passionist Spiritual Center in New York City”, Bishop Molloy Retreat House, Jamaica, NY www.bishopmolloy.org