Father Amaro Saumell
I've been looking around the Internet
at all the different things concerning "Defending the Faith". I ask myself this
question: "What's there to defend?" Now that may seem a little strange. But actually, God needs no defense. In fact, He
never told us to defend our faith. His command is to spread the faith to all nations.
There's a big difference.
Defending our faith would be to try to put
another to a disadvantage. What we really
want to do is to give them the advantage of our joy of salvation and way of life. When we force others into the position of having
to formulate an offense for us to defend, we lose the battle. We've stirred up their pride and resistance. So, we may have "won the battle" without
apologetic response, but they've heard nothing and we lose any chance of converting a
soul. Jesus' command to us for those who
will not listen when we "share" is that we shake the dust from our sandals and
walk away. He didn't say to waste time
The best defense is the best offense. That means that when people live horrible lives
and see that Catholics are happy, confident, cooperative with each other, charitable
without judgement or coercion, and simply loving of our neighbor, they eventually want the
same. When they see us peaceful and prayerful
under the worst of circumstances, keeping our sanity, they'll want the same.
we think we must
defend ourselves against are actually doing us a favor.
They criticize us and give us clues of how we can be better witnesses of the
faith. When they do this, what they're
actually saying is, "We expect more from Christians." In other words, they're saying that they are
looking for the hope that they want available when they reach their final desperation.
I, like many, have had to
hear about popes through the ages who have had concubines and illegitimate children,
pedophilia, etc. But I have seen more conversions when, rather than "defending the
faith, I talk about what we've learned through these experiences of individuals who
did not follow the tenets of the faith. I
talk about the fact that all the Apostles betrayed Jesus in one way or the other and how I
do it too, leaving me in the situation of having to deal with the truth in Confession. I talk about how God even uses those experiences
to bring me to a fuller and more human existence in His image. I have no reason to
"defend the faith."
I have an opportunity to
show how healing our faith is. This is how I've been able to attract more people to
R.C.I.A.. I have taken away the divide that defines itself in "us vs.
them" and try to bring us all together in Christ. It works so much better than
putting people on the "them" list and placing a barrier between us.
Actions speak so much better than
words. That's why St. Paul says in last week's second reading, "Be imitators of
me." He was not bragging. For when we see his other writings, we see him
talking about his faults, his conversion, his failings, and the successes of the Lord
through his weakness. He is totally transparent. And that is what brings
others to conversion.
Remember, having to
"defend" means that we see ourselves as having a disadvantage. There is no
disadvantage in Christ.
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