Friday, November 5, 2010

Even in Tears


Readings for Friday, November 5:
Philippians 3:17-4:1
Psalm 122:1-5
Luke 16:1-8

"For many, as I have told you and now tell you even in tears, conduct themselves as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction. Their God is their stomach; their glory is in their 'shame'."

I hope that these words of St. Paul to the Philippians make you pause for a moment and reflect. It always strikes me how he doesn't just say "I have told you..." but rather "I have told you and now tell you even in tears...." In tears he reminds them of the fact that there are some who have made themselves enemies of the Cross of Jesus Christ, glorying in a life of sinfulness. Though I am not brought to physical tears, I too experience a great sadness of soul when I look around me sometimes. St. Paul speaks about people glorying in their shame - what else is this other than being prideful of one's own sinfulness? There is certainly no shortage of this - turn on any 'reality TV' show and you'll soon find a small army of people boasting of their sinfulness, though they wouldn't phrase it as such. And because it is so commonplace it is easy for us to accept and treat as if it's the norm. But what St. Paul's words should spark in our hearts is the realization that it shouldn't be accepted, but rather we ought to morn that they lack the joy and life of Christ that abides in the hearts of those who follow in His ways. We too are called to weep, at least internally, at the sorrow of their ignorance of the Truth, Jesus Christ. And what's more, we ought to pray for them, that they might one day come to know Him.

Another important point that needs expressing is the fact that St. Paul sheds tears for two reasons: 1- his total love for God and sorrow at seeing His love rejected and 2 - he himself was once one of those who made himself an enemy of the Cross of Christ. St. Paul isn't just speaking as a man who was always a pious Christian. He speaks as one who formerly persecuted Christians and sought to destroy the Church; but experiencing the love of God, he converted and sought to build up the Church. He knows the darkness of his former life because he knows the brightness and joy of his new life in Christ. And for that reason he weeps, knowing how much more those 'enemies of the Cross' could have than they did. We who have come to know more deeply the love of God for us are also called to point out the way to Jesus Christ and to pray that our world might have the grace to follow in it.