“The people who sit in darkness have seen a great light, on those dwelling in a land overshadowed by death light has arisen” Matt 4:16.
Yesterday we celebrated the birth of the Light of the World, what joy we should feel that God so loved the world that He sent His only begotten Son to save us from our sins. In spite of the seemingly endless occurrences of senseless violence in our society, acts of terrorism, wars, increased crime, and a general departure from Christian morality, we should still be filled with joy at all times because we are deeply, scandalously loved by the God of the Universe.
The question is, do we really believe what we profess to be true? Do we Christians live as a people of joy, knowing that we are adopted sons and daughters of the almighty God? When people meet us, do they know that we are Christians by our love? As we meditate and reflect upon the scandalous love that God has for us, we cannot help but be filled with joy, a joy that the world cannot give.
Sadly, our culture has largely rejected the gift that God has offered to them. Many who are baptized Christians have “exchanged the truth of God for a lie and revered and worshiped the creature rather than the creator” Rom 1:25. What can we do to draw our brothers and sisters back towards the Lord and giver of life? I propose that it is by lighting a candle and not cursing the darkness. It is an ongoing temptation for me to notice all the problems in the world and curse those who promote ideas and lifestyles contrary to God’s plan. I have found this to be quite fun to do: complain, complain, complain, and yet not much changes. Facebook is a great platform for engaging in such useless activities.
So what is a good Christian to do?
It is easy for some of us who remember the good old days to be upset and want to do what we can to change it back to the way it used to be, or to hold the ground that has not been lost to a culture increasingly hostile to Christianity, but I don’t think we will be very successful. I am not proposing that we give up on important issues like the dignity of Marriage, the right to life, or religious freedom; however, I am proposing that we change the way in which we go about promoting the Good News in the public square.
Why do people want Gay Marriage?
The recent national election showed beyond a doubt that most people in our country do not view traditional marriage as something that holds any unique value for our society and surely not something that is worth fighting for. A lack of authentic Christian marriages has left many in our culture wondering why marriage between a man and a woman should be the only option since it has failed on so many levels.
It appears that a many believe that this country founded on Christian principles has failed to achieve its goals and a different approach should be tried. Even back in the good old days when the rate of divorce was less than 20%, there were many stories of extremely dysfunctional families in which the kids wished that their parents had divorced rather than stayed together. Whatever the root cause of the breakdown of marriage and family life, it has indeed broken down and instead of successful marriages being the norm, they are the exception. The Alexander House, founded by Greg and Julie Alexander, is devoted to restoring the Christian vision of marriage, not just preventing divorces, but providing the tools for couples to live out God’s plan for their marriage. I believe that instead of cursing those promoting non-Christian views of marriage, we need to strive to be better witnesses to the beauty that is possible by following God’s plan for marriage and sharing that vision with everyone you know.
We must also transform our families into the image of the Holy Family. Our families should be a refuge from the difficulties in our world. They should be a place where peace, harmony and joy reign. I know, I know, it seems impossible. With nine kids, I know personally how difficult it is to strive for this ideal. While we may never achieve it perfectly, we must prioritize our lives to ensure the best chance for success. If we are closed to God’s gift of new life, and place sports, school events, and vacations before Sunday mass, family prayer, study of our faith and church related activities, we are doomed to fail. It is a difficult task, but well worth the effort. Gwen (Servant of God) and Jerry Coniker started the Apostolate for Family Consecration to assist families in this difficult task. The fruits of their apostolate has had profound effects on numerous families. For more information on this wonderful apostolate and to find some incredible resources for bringing joy to your family life, visit www.familyconsecration.com.
A Call to Action
We are called to make our marriages and families something that people want for themselves. We are called to be a light in the darkness and to not hide our candle under a bushel basket, but to place it on a lamp stand to give light to the whole room. We don’t even need to use words, just living our family life according to God’s plan and with joy is enough that people will take notice. We cannot be content with an average marriage or an average family, we are called to be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect. While this may be impossible for man, all things are possible for God. (see Matt 19:26)
We will only win the culture wars with love, not by casting stones. A vicious, angry reply to a gay marriage advocate or an abortion supporter will only confirm their negative opinion of Christians who hold biblical truths contrary to theirs. We will accomplish very little by defending what little ground we have left in this battle, we need to go on the offensive and show the world that Christianity is a powerful force for good in this broken world. We know this to be true; now the tough work begins, but you are not alone. Jesus promised to be with us always and He will not abandon us. He loves all of us, even those who are persecuting Christianity. In fact, Scripture tells us that He loves them more. Do we love them too?
For those of you who love music, Matt Maher has written a great song that may inspire you in this area: Heaven Help Me: “Everybody’s quoting the bible, I think it could be truth or lies, and I’m standing on the corner with the saints and the sinners trying to quote your love with my life”
4 Replies to “A Light in the Darkness”
Thanks for the encouragement. Now we must pray and live the fullness of marriage; how do we convict couples to live “open to new life”. Thank you for being faithful to matrimony. Every couple who trusts G*d ,as you have, blesses the world. Fruitful, holy families make me smile and challenge me to a faithful wife and mother.
I agree wholeheartedly with you. I’ve been leaning towards pacifism in the culture wars, inspired by the example of the first Christians in a hostile Roman culture. Indeed, many publicly gave up their lives for Christ, but I couldn’t find in their history examples of the actions by contemporary Christians in a hostile secularized culture. True enough, the cultures involved are different, but, interestingly enough, the issues are the same now as then.
Rather, even though adherence to Christianity could lead to a death sentence in some periods of Roman history, it didn’t stop converting many Romans to Christ. When Constantine legalized Christianity, it had reached a critical mass of followers, so the Roman emperor couldn’t but acknowledge the fact. So much so that a couple of centuries later his successor, Justinian, made Christianity the official religion of the Roman empire.
It seems to me that Christians were active in the culture at that time by the example of their lives. Nowadays we might be tempted at regarding such attitude as passive, but perhaps we’re using the values of the world in this assessment. After all, though we are in this world, we do not belong to it; as Christians our mission is to transform the world into something that it does not naturally desire to be, it needs to be persuaded to desire to be what God created it to be.
To answer your question, – how do we convict couples to live “open to new life” –
I would say that our witness to being open to life is the best method, children are a blessing, not a heavy burden, we welcome life not for selfish reasons, but because they are a gift to not only us, but to the world by our God. Even if we are not able to have a large family, our attitude towards children speaks volumes in our daily interactions with friends and family. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard negative comments about someone being pregnant, about how difficult a particular child is (sometimes when that child or other children are present). This attitude of children being problems and a heavy burden is rampant, just watch an evening TV show, I am sure you will find an example within a couple of hours.
We must be apostles of joy, even if we encounter difficulties in our family life, all is a gift from God for our benefit.
Well said Augustine, being passive (not aggressive) takes a lot of courage and strength, just meditate upon the Passion and then enter into it.
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