Monday, December 17, 2012

Stopping Violence - What Is the Answer?

How do we put an end to the violent acts that seem to be increasing in frequency?  Even if we collected and melted down every firearm in the nation, it would not solve our problem.  (On the same day 20 children lost their lives to gunfire in Newtown, CT, an intruder at a  Chinese school used a knife to slash 22 children.) The violence we are seeing will not be stopped by greater gun control, humanistic counseling, a government program, nor sophisticated ad campaigns.  Its cause goes way too deep.

What we're dealing with is the evil that can reside in the human heart.  We're dealing with a global, cultural devaluation of human beings - from the sacred nature of the sexual act that produces them, to the dignity and importance of having a mother and a father in every home, to the legal killing of unborn children and the sick aged.  The problem is within the human heart, it is sin, and in and of ourselves we human beings are powerless to fix it. 

We fool ourselves by thinking that if we treat the symptoms, then we will solve the problem.  Better gun control, better mental health programs, a better-educated public, etc., etc.  Take away all the guns, throw all the money and services we can at the problem - and at the end of the day we're still left with mis-functioning human hearts.  As obviously needful as it is to keep guns from falling into the wrong hands and to teach people acceptable ways to deal with their anger and pain, at its deepest level, humanity's problem is spiritual:  "from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, fornication, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a man” (Mk.7:21-23).

What is the answer?  "I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life" (Jn.14:6).  The answer is Jesus - we counter the culture of death, with Life Himself.  He is the only One with the power to reach into the human heart and regenerate it from within!

Some readers, fellow Christians, rolled their eyes as they read that.  "Simpleton," they think.  But honestly, if you do not believe that Jesus is the answer to this question - to every question - I do not know why you bother to identify yourself with Him.  

I am putting a challenge out there:  What would happen if each of us truly lived the Faith we claim to possess?  What would happen if we truly positioned ourselves so as to encounter Jesus Christ in His word and sacraments?  (It's not hard!) What would be the effect on our nation if every Christian, or even just every person who identifies him or herself as Catholic ...
  • Made the non-miss event of their family's weekends not the kids' sporting events, but receiving Jesus in the Eucharist?  (And maybe even going to Confession beforehand?)
  • Read and re-read the four Gospels the way we do popular novels?    (Honestly, if you have read the Fifty Shades trilogy, at over 1600 pages, but not the four Gospels, a mere 200 pages, then it is time to remedy that - consider it a Christmas present to yourself!)  
  • Memorized the Ten Commandments the way we do sports statistics?
  • Made time to for the Rosary, the way we do for a workout - or prayed the Rosary while we got a work out?
  • Instead of bemoaning how "backward" our Church is, actually challenged ourselves to study what Jesus said and why our Church teaches what it does on sexuality, marriage, and family?  (The Catechism, right here, is such an easy place to start.)
  • Talked to God with our children before they left for school, when they arrived home, and again at bedtime?
  • Talked about our belief in God even a quarter as much as we talk about what we saw on t.v. last night? 

If we lived the Faith, if we made Jesus present in our own lives and invited others to do the same, then our nation and world would be transformed!  It happened to ancient Rome - a culture that practiced infanticide and watched gladiators fight to the death for entertainment!  But it took Christians who loved Christ Jesus more than life itself to bring about its conversion.  What about us, do we love Him that much?  Do we really believe that He is the answer to every question? 

We need to examine ourselves as we listen to these words of the Risen Christ: "I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot.  Would that you were cold or hot!  So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of My mouth ... Those whom I love, I reprove and chasten; so be zealous and repent.  Behold I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me" (Rev. 3:16, 19-20).


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