Third Sunday of Advent

Sunday 11 December 2016

Dear Friends in Christ,

The Lord Jesus teaches us to expect opposition, rejection, and even hatred and persecution from “the world” simply because we are his disciples. But, by “the world”, the Christ does not mean the universe he created or this planet which is his handiwork; rather, by “the world”, the Messiah means that part of his creation which is in rebellion against its Creator. And in every age from his Resurrection to our day, the solemn warning of Jesus has been fulfilled — even if the nature of the opposition and persecution have changed in different times and places.

As we prepare to celebrate with joy the Birth of the Messiah, we must be mindful that all over the world today, Christian men, women, and children are in real danger of poverty, persecution, and even death simply because they believe that Jesus Christ is Lord and want to shape their lives by that belief. In nations where militant Islam, fanatical Hinduism, or godless Communism are the dominant force in culture, government, or both, Christians do not enjoy the protection of law, cannot exercise the natural human right of freedom of religion, and are under constant threat of imprisonment, torture, forced conversion to other religions, and violent death either from judicial murder or mob violence.

But we do not have to look to foreign prisons to find such persecution. Here in the United States of America, Catholics are systematically being denied our freedom of religion in the name of the dictatorship of relativism. In different parts of our country, the Church has been forced to abandon placing children for adoption, and every Catholic institution in the nation (hospitals, colleges, universities, etc.) is under threat right now from the Federal Government of being obliged to cooperate with and pay for abortion, sterilization and contraception as “health care.” Unless this trend is resisted, then in due course, ministers of the Catholic Church will no longer be permitted to witness marriages with effects in civil law and Catholic schools may well be forced to hire persons who do not believe and are not living according to the Catholic Faith.

If we are to worship the Kings of kings with our lives as well as with our words, we have a solemn moral obligation to resist these injustices — at home and abroad — with every available means and to bear witness to our faith no matter the cost. Three days after Christmas, on 28 December, the Church celebrates the Feast of the Holy Innocents, the children who were martyred by King Herod in his vain effort to prevent the true Son of David from taking the Throne of Israel. From that first Christmas until the Day of the Lord, following Jesus Christ will always require from his disciples the readiness to endure opposition and persecution for the sake of proclaiming that Jesus Christ is Lord. May God give us the grace to bear witness to the truth of the Gospel this Christmas and every day of our lives.

Father Newman