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  • Writer's pictureThe Hermit of Antipolo

Stumbling Blocks Part 4 (Holy Warriors Part 41)

Today’s readings:

Deuteronomy 4:32-40

Psalm 77:12-21

Matthew 16:24-28

The Lord through His word in the Bible continues to teach us how to be holy warriors, avoiding stumbling blocks and acting rightly.

One big stumbling block is doubting the power of God. Yes, we pay lip service to the power and majesty of God, but when push comes to shove, when we face the giants among the enemy, we falter. This should not be, for who indeed is the God whom we serve? He is the God of Israel who liberated His people from Egypt. He is unlike other gods. For “did any god venture to go and take a nation for himself from the midst of another nation, by testings, by signs and wonders, by war, with strong hand and outstretched arm, and by great terrors” (Dt 4:34a). Our God is a warrior God, “dispossessing before you nations greater and mightier than you” (Dt 4:38a).

What should be the proper attitude of holy warriors? “This is why you must now acknowledge, and fix in your heart, that the Lord is God in the heavens above and on earth below, and that there is no other.” (Dt 4:39). Drill this into your hearts and minds. Our God is Lord of all creation. He is all-powerful. Nothing can stand in His way. There is no other god but Him. And He backs us up.

A second stumbling block is disobedience. It should be clear what God wants holy warriors to do. They are to grow in holiness, and they are to engage in spiritual war. This is about who we are and what we are to do. This encompasses and governs all other commandments, for a holy person is one who heeds and lives out all that God tells us. Thus “you must keep his statutes and commandments which I command you today” (Dt 4:40a). What soldiers do not observe strict obedience to their commanding officers?

Such obedience impacts on our physical, material, familial and spiritual well-being. God takes care of His own, so long as we do not stray away from Him. The ultimate blessing is that “you and your children after you may prosper, and that you may have long life on the land which the Lord, your God, is giving you forever.” (Dt 4:40b). This is of particular relevance to us in CFC-FFL, as we have the ministry of family and life. And we are to take (back) the land.

A third stumbling block is failure to enter more deeply into discipleship. In God’s army we start as recruits, then go through training to become better prepared soldiers. In a similar way, Jesus calls us and renews us, but we cannot just stop with the basics, perhaps even already being a good soldier. There is still the call to be his Special Forces. So Jesus tells us, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.” (Mt 16:24).

There are three things here—self-denial, embrace of the cross, following Christ. These are essential for warriors who will engage in intense spiritual battles. Self-denial enables us to not count the cost, and to look only to the good of the mission. Embrace of the cross enables us to be able to weather any trial or challenge, often at great personal cost and suffering. Following the Commander-in-Chief is necessary, as he knows how to conduct the war and achieve the victory, and we follow his lead.

What can help us accept the above is avoidance of a fourth stumbling block, and that is looking more to our human minds and ways rather than to the inscrutable wisdom of God. For God, the first is the last and the last is the first. The greatest is the least and the least is the greatest. In war lives are lost. So Jesus says, “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Mt 16:25). This is essential for holy warriors! We cannot get into the thick of the fight looking primarily how we can be safe and preserve our lives. War is war. We enter the fray ready to lay down our lives!

But even as we do so, this is the way to true life, and ultimately to eternal life. “For the Son of Man will come with his angels in his Father’s glory, and then he will repay everyone according to his conduct.” (Mt 16:27). What a glorious time that would be. Will we have fought such that our Commander-in-Chief will award us the Medal of Valor?

We serve our God as holy warriors. This is all about Him, for our God too is a holy warrior. “Your way, God, is holy; …. With your mighty arm you redeemed your people, …. your arrows flashed back and forth. The thunder of your chariot wheels resounded; …. ” (Ps 77:14a,16a,18b-19a).

All this is so “that you might know that the Lord is God; there is no other.” (Dt 4:35a). Onward, holy warriors! Ho-wa!

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