08 August, 2009

How should we respond to those who spread hate and lies about us?

Those of us who are engaged in contending for our faith are continuously tested for our patience and charity towards others. Often we hear outrageous accusations against our Church, leadership, beliefs and practices that are at least partially untrue and usually just blatant lies based on bigotry and hatred of what Christ and the disciples founded. Sometimes I think we forget that enduring these attacks is something we must do when doing Christ’s work by His example. Jesus said the following:

(Mat 5:39) But I say to you not to resist evil: but if one strike thee on thy right cheek, turn to him also the other:

Jesus was speaking here not of physical attacks but of insults. We are called by His example to endure insults but more than this we are instructed to love them and we are to pray for those who persecute us and His Church. We are called to seek perfection in our love for our enemies.

(Mat 5:43) You have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thy enemy.

(Mat 5:44) But I say to you, Love your enemies: do good to them that hate you: and pray for them that persecute and calumniate you:

(Mat 5:45) That you may be the children of your Father who is in heaven, who maketh his sun to rise upon the good, and bad, and raineth upon the just and the unjust.

(Mat 5:46) For if you love them that love you, what reward shall you have? do not even the publicans this?

(Mat 5:47) And if you salute your brethren only, what do you more? do not also the heathens this?

(Mat 5:48) Be you therefore perfect, as also your heavenly Father is perfect.

Jesus said from the cross when in His greatest agony:

(Luk 23:33) And when they were come to the place which is called Calvary, they crucified him there: and the robbers, one on the right hand, and the other on the left.

(Luk 23:34) And Jesus said: Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do. But they, dividing his garments, cast lots.

We must remember that our battle is not against our fellow men that are suffering from a lack of knowledge and are most often the victims of false teachers who have deceived them into believing that anyone different from what they teach is evil when it is those teachers and false prophets who are the evil ones. They do not recognize that they are doing the work of the great deceiver but believe instead that they are doing God’s will. They have failed to heed the warning:

(Mat 7:15) Beware of false prophets, who come to you in the clothing of sheep, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.

But, they are not our enemy but the ones we must show the most charity and the most mercy. We must remember what we are told about our enemy:

(Eph 6:10) Finally, brethren, be strengthened in the Lord and in the might of his power.

(Eph 6:11) Put you on the armour of God, that you may be able to stand against the deceits of the devil.

(Eph 6:12) For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood; but against principalities and powers, against the rulers of the world of this darkness, against the spirits of wickedness in the high places.

(Eph 6:13) Therefore, take unto you the armour of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day and to stand in all things perfect.

(Eph 6:14) Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth and having on the breastplate of justice:

(Eph 6:15) And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace.

(Eph 6:16) In all things taking the shield of faith, wherewith you may be able to extinguish all the fiery darts of the most wicked one.

(Eph 6:17) And take unto you the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit (which is the word of God).

(Eph 6:18) By all prayer and supplication praying at all times in the spirit: and in the same watching with all instance and supplication for all the saints:

(Eph 6:19) And for me, that speech may be given me, that I may open my mouth with confidence, to make known the mystery of the gospel,

We must remain forever mindful that our efforts can help, with the assistance and inspiration of the Holy Spirit to turn them from their hatred. We can provide them with knowledge and loving example when we offer them the other “cheek” of love, patience and charity. By doing so the Bible tells us the following:

(Pro 25:21) If thy enemy be hungry, give him to eat: if he thirst, give him water to drink:

(Pro 25:22) For thou shalt heap hot coals upon his head, and the Lord will reward thee.

We are to give our enemies the food of love and the water of truth to satisfy their hunger and thirst. It is through our charity and kindness that they will come to Christ and His Church and not through our frustration and consternation for their souls.

While it comes from our flesh to lash out at the attacks and to seek vengeance it is not the way of our Lord. We are instead to do all things in love.

If we fail in our efforts the price is great so we should instead change our anger to love so that their bulwark of false teaching will not withstand the “hot coals” of the truth through love that we provide. We can turn some of them from their desire to serve themselves and come home into the familial relationship that Christ has provided in His Church. The stakes are very high and we must put on a Christ like manner along with our armor of God and that manner is represented truly and substantially but the love we give and not the love we receive. Here is the dangers our opponents face who have rejected His Church:

(Mat 7:21) Not every one that saith to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven: but he that doth the will of my Father who is in heaven, he shall enter into the kingdom of heaven.

(Mat 7:22) Many will say to me in that day: Lord, Lord, have not we prophesied in thy name, and cast out devils in thy name, and done many miracles in thy name?

(Mat 7:23) And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, you that work iniquity.

We must be a conduit to lead them to the rock of true and full faith which is contained in His Church:

(Mat 7:24) Every one therefore that heareth these my words, and doth them, shall be likened to a wise man that built his house upon a rock,

(Mat 7:25) And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and they beat upon that house, and it fell not, for it was founded on a rock.

(Mat 7:26) And every one that heareth these my words and doth them not, shall be like a foolish man that built his house upon the sand,

(Mat 7:27) And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and they beat upon that house, and it fell, and great was the fall thereof.

We must accept our suffering through insults and lies so that others will receive the truth. Jesus prepared us for our mission by His prophetic statement that also encourages us in its veracity:

(Joh 15:18) If the world hate you, know ye that it hath hated me before you.

We must never forget what He said to us all and what the priest tells us at the end of every Mass which is "Go in peace to love and serve the Lord" which reflects the following:

(Mar 16:15) And he said to them: Go ye into the whole world and preach the gospel to every creature.

We must remain strong and not seduced by our flesh into the following:

(Rom 12:19) Revenge not yourselves, my dearly beloved; but give place unto wrath, for it is written: Revenge is mine, I will repay, saith the Lord.

With Love in Christ
Fr. Joseph

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