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  • Writer's pictureThe Hermit of Antipolo

An Easter Army (Holy Warriors Part 51)

Today’s readings:

Acts 4:13-21

Psalm 118:1-21

Mark 16:9-15

We are in the first week of Easter, and we continue to consider what Easter is all about. It is of course about the salvation won for us by Jesus on the cross. Now Jesus finished his earthly ministry and has ascended to heaven, to return again in the fullness of time. In the meantime, we are to continue with the work of proclaiming his salvation to the whole world. This is the work of evangelization. As Jesus said to the Eleven, so too does he say to all his disciples today, “Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature.” (Mk 16:15).

Now, after almost 2,000 years, that work is not done. And considering that the world today is deep in sin and darkness, that work becomes even more urgent. The people of God, especially the laity, need to rise and be counted. What needs to happen now?

First, God’s people need to understand what Jesus has done and be thankful for that, for gratitude leads to positive action. Jesus redeemed us out of God’s great mercy. “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, his mercy endures forever.” (Ps 118:1). God is merciful, but we must never take His mercy for granted. He is also a God of justice, and there will be a final reckoning. We must respond to His mercy by repentance and putting our faith in Jesus.

Today there is talk of mercy, but it has been shrouded by political correctness. Mercy is seen as just being nice to people, accepting them, not saying anything that would offend them. And since people are offended by being told of their sin, such mercy does not talk of sin, but just about embrace and accompaniment. This is false mercy, as it leaves a person comfortable in his sin. It is in fact the opposite of mercy, which is supposed to lead to repentance, which is supposed to lead to salvation.

So today we need to proclaim God’s mercy and His salvation. People need to meet and know Jesus who suffered and died for them, to put their faith in him, and to start to live in him.

Second, today there is growing unbelief and hardness of heart. Just like the Eleven, Jesus “rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart because they had not believed those who saw him after he had been raised.” (Mk 16:14). Today people have of course not actually seen the risen Christ. And so the gospel is intended precisely to proclaim the Christ that people have not seen. Unfortunately, many so-called Christians no longer believe or have become hard of heart with regard to the gospel. There is growing apostasy in the Church. Many Christian lives are being lived apart from Christ.

This is why the Church is called to a New Evangelization. We are to go back to the basics. In fact, the missing first step in evangelization is the proclamation of the gospel, the kerygma. If the first step is missing, then how can there be further progress in one’s faith? When the gospel is proclaimed, by the grace of God, people can undergo personal conversion and transformation.

Third, as the world and the culture is antagonistic to Christianity, those who evangelize and do mission must be bold, persevering, and ready to endure suffering. The early Christians, starting with the apostles, endured much oppression, persecution and pain, but they plodded on, and the faith swept over the whole world.

Today, with the world back in darkness, secular authorities are suppressing the faith. Even in Christian nations, especially in the West, the state has acted like the Sanhedrin. “But so that it may not be spread any further among the people, let us give them a stern warning never again to speak to anyone in this name.” (Acts 4:17). Laws are being passed restricting religious freedom, the name of God is being expunged by prohibiting public prayer and display of the Ten Commandments, the rights of Christians are being violated in many ways. The aim of the secular state is to weaken or totally eradicate Christianity.

Now it is not just the state, but at times even leaders within the Church. There are those who say we should not proselytize, to just respect other religions, or who might even put Christianity and other religions such as Islam on the same level. Yes, have basic respect for others, but no, the proclamation of the gospel is a command of God and should be obeyed. Told not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus, Peter and John answered the Sanhedrin, “Whether it is right in the sight of God for us to obey you rather than God, you be the judges. It is impossible for us not to speak about what we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:19-20).

We obey no one but God. Jesus told us to proclaim the gospel to all, and that is what we do.

In the New Evangelization, this is a call for holy warriors. “The joyful shout of deliverance is heard in the tents of the righteous” (Ps 118:15a). For holy warriors, the Lord is there in the midst of danger and sets us free (Ps 118:5), with the Lord we need not be afraid (Ps 118:6), with the Lord we overcome our foes (Ps 118:7), in the Lord is our refuge and total trust (Ps 118:8-9). For holy warriors, as we engage in spiritual war throughout the world, we look to victory in the mighty name of God. “All the nations surrounded me; in the Lord’s name I cut them off.” (Ps 118:10).

Arise, holy warriors. Go forth in the strength and power of God. “The Lord’s right hand works valiantly; the Lord’s right hand is raised; the Lord’s right hand works valiantly.” (Ps 118:15b-16).

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