Memorial of Saint John Bosco, Priest

Consider how he endured such opposition from sinners, in order that you may not grow weary and lose heart. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood.

The Letter to the Hebrews was apparently written by a church elder with a deep grasp of the Jewish heritage, an intense devotion to Jesus, and grave concern for the Church of his time. Although Christians had suffered persecution and proven their faith by cheerful perseverance, when the crisis passed they lost their fervor.
People often don’t react to threats, bullying and abuse as they are expected. When the Germans bombed prostrate London the Brits fought them all the way back to Berlin. When the Germans stormed Leningrad in one of the most punishing sieges in history, the Russians refused to buckle, despite their diabolically corrupt leader, Joseph Stalin. They even managed to broadcast a Shostakovich symphony to their tormentors.  Nor did the firebombing of Dresden destroy the spirit of the German people. Baghdatis took cover during the “shock and awe” campaign then found creative ways to resist the overwhelming American occupation.

The Church realized this many centuries ago. We have boasted, “The blood of martyrs is the seed of the Church.” The more they abused us the stronger we grew.
But we have a hard time with security and prosperity. Unchallenged from without, we do not challenge ourselves from within. We can’t seem to explain to ourselves or others why we should fast, pay tithes and donate time and energy to the Church. Typically, about three percent of any parish get involved although they flood the church during a crisis. That statistic has remained constant even as Sunday attendance dwindles.

Many former Christians think they can claim the title since they pay taxes, hold jobs and avoid trouble. They say they “believe” in Jesus (or God) though their faith makes no discernible difference in their life style. They attend no church and feel no desire to.
The day seems to be coming when the name of Christian will lose its appeal. It was used a sneer in the first place, and appears only three times in the New Testament. When that day comes practicing Christians will also disavow the word; some because they fear retribution; others because of its obvious hypocrisy. Catholics too might disown the word Catholic.

The Church, of course, will still gather to worship God. The Holy Spirit will see to that. Perhaps, on that day, we’ll have a better sense of who we are, what we need, and why we assemble in his name.

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I love to write. This blog helps me to meditate on the Word of God, and I hope to make some contribution to our contemplations of God's Mighty Works.

Ordinarily, I write these reflections two or three weeks in advance of their publication. I do not intend to comment on current events.

I understand many people prefer gender-neutral references to "God." I don't disagree with them but find that language impersonal, unappealing and tasteless. When I refer to "God" I think of the One whom Jesus called "Abba" and "Father", and I would not attempt to improve on Jesus' language.

You're welcome to add a thought or raise a question.