It’s hard sticking to your guns when everyone is having fun.
Makes me want to run, I don’t know what to do.
While it’s doubtful Detroit’s Jack White of The Raconteurs was talking about the struggle in proclaiming the Christian message in the face of opposition, my trips to parishes across the archdiocese seem to lead to drawing inspiration from unusual places.
For my personal #LiveYourBestLent journey, one of my resolutions was to cease from posting or commenting about political or controversial posts (apologies to the Oscars crowd, but I didn’t see Moonlight or La La Land , and I’m OK with that). Instead, I hoped to concentrate on reading, praying and reflecting.
Some days I’m successful with this. Others days, I’m not.
The problem I face is coming across posts from people questioning or contradicting the Christian message of the teachings of the Catholic Church.
These occasions present two options. One, keep scrolling and look for the next puppy video. Or option two, channel my “inner St. Thomas Aquinas” and try to explain the teachings of the Church in an effort to follow Jesus’ command to proclaim His word to the world and go out and make disciples.
The choice can be difficult at times. On one hand, staying quiet and not proclaiming our faith is the exact opposite of what Jesus commanded his disciples to do. Could you imagine if the Apostles in the upper room had this great experience with the Holy Spirit and then all agreed not to share it with the world?
On the other hand, what happens when we proclaim an ever-more counter-cultural Christian message and it’s rejected, ridiculed and ultimately, ignored? As human beings, we like to be liked. We don’t want to upset our friends, our families.
Throughout my own Lenten journey, I’ve prayed over why religious and philosophical debates turn so “passionate” and what responsibilities Catholics have in both proclaiming the teachings of the church and walking in the footsteps of Christ.
The reason these debates and arguments in the comment sections become so “passionate” is we care about our friends. We want to see them go to Heaven. We want to see them live happy lives, and we know that living a life with Jesus Christ as our Savior is the best thing that can happen to us. And telling others about Him is the best thing we can do.
Jesus said this wouldn’t be easy. Jesus told his Apostles he would bring not peace, but division in the Gospel according to St. Luke: “They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother.”
Does this mean Jesus really wants us to rant and rave every time we hear or read people bad-mouthing the Church. Probably not.
We’re called to find the Christ in one another, to love our enemies and do good to those who hurt you. This includes people who make our blood boil or say things that inherently go against the Christian message.
Part of living the Christian life is not having all the answers all the time. And in a culture with all the information in the world at one’s fingertips, admitting when you don’t have all the answers can be a humbling experience.
But Jesus doesn’t expect us to know everything. He doesn’t expect us to convert the masses with a cutting comment on Facebook or a post that will get a lot of “Likes.”
He expects us to see Christ in one another, to do good to those who hurt us, and not be afraid to proclaim His Father’s word, even when the world seems to be against you.
For the rest of this Lent, and beyond, I plan on continuing my promise. To comment less and to read and reflect more. I’ll try cutting down on throwing philosophical jabs at people and learn to love them for where they are in their spiritual journey.
It won’t be easy, but Jesus doesn’t want us to win arguments.
He wants to win us. And He already did.
Dan Meloy is a staff reporter for The Michigan Catholic newspaper.