I was up really late one night watching some really bad sports talk show. These two guys were debating something about Tim Tebow. I can’t remember exactly what it was about. But they were really getting into the argument. At one point, one guy asked the other, “Don’t you think that Christians are the last acceptable group to hate?” The other guy paused for a moment. I honestly expected him to start bashing Christians but his face softened for a moment. He finally said, “Look, a lot of people persecute Christians and their beliefs. It is everywhere. But what do we expect? Jesus told us this would happen. It’s spelled out very clearly. Jesus, Himself, told us that we would be persecuted, hated, killed. So yes, people are prejudiced against Christians, but what else should we expect?” I was shocked. This guy on late night bad TV in the middle of some dumb argument just made a theologically profound and beautiful statement.
It’s true. Jesus said, “I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves.” We, as Catholics, should not ever expect an easy go of things. Yes, we should fight with all our might to make the world a more perfect place, but we shouldn’t be surprised that the world does things that go against what we believe.
I sometimes get really depressed about the state of the world. Hunger and homelessness. Abuse and violence. Genocide and government-funded killing. Drop out and teen pregnancy rates. Gangs and drugs. It doesn’t help that most of the current Facebook and Twitter chatter perpetrates gloom and doom about arguing politicians, a Supreme Court decision gone awry, the fiscal cliff and budget crisis, to name a few. People are constantly damning other people who disagree with them. Especially fresh off the last presidential election, I still need some distance from the mudslinging. Loving, faithful Catholics on both sides of the aisle screaming that the sky will fall as a result of this or that political move and calling anyone who disagrees with them a bad Catholic. This makes my heart heavy.
But then I remember this very important fact. The absolute worst thing in humanity’s history has already happened. Jesus was born (that’s not the worst thing) and then we killed Him (that’s the worst thing). For a short period of history, we had God with us. Not just through the Holy Spirit and not like God’s presence with us through other people, but actually reach-out-and-touch-God’s-hand-hear-His-voice with us. We had God with us. And we hated Him. We were scared of Him. We killed Him. He died. He went to hell for three days. There is no moment in history that is darker, that is closer to evil prevailing. But then Jesus reversed death. Jesus conquered death. He took the worst thing that could ever happen and made it the best. He died and rose from the dead to give us a way to rise again when we die. Through His death, we can be freed from death. We are able to conquer death because of His resurrection.
And that’s what we should focus on. The conquering death part. Instead of reposting or retweeting every article that we agree with and hurling condemnations at every person that disagrees with us, how about we pray more? How about we volunteer at a crisis pregnancy center? How about we work at a soup kitchen? How about we help someone pay her/his rent? How about we help a poor uninsured family pay for health insurance? How about we help a single mom pay for childcare? How about we act? Because while Jesus told his disciples that they would be persecuted because of him, he definitely didn’t tell them to sit around and push blame on each other for the evils of the day. He sent them to the corners of the earth because there is too much work to be done to sit and stew. Because whatever the problems of our time, it’s not the end of the world. We must try our best and work our hardest to do what is right and help right injustices in the world. This coupled with our firm belief that no evil is strong enough to win ensures that we will not be overcome with all the gloom and doom proclaimed in our day. God will always prevail. And this is a hope that will not disappoint.