My Ways or Your Ways? | Fr. David Vincent Meconi, SJ | HPR
What do ISIS, the Chinese government, and many Catholics have in common? It begins like a bad joke, I know, but none of them allows Christ’s Church to carry out her mission fully.
Reading the papers these past few weeks only confirms a convergence between the Church’s enemies: ISIS takes 300 of our faithful as hostages and threatens their martyrdom unless they recant the Faith, Beijing rebels against Vatican-appointed bishops, and so many of our so-called Catholic institutions are fighting the removal of abortion coverage from their insurance policies.
In talking about these instances with a dear friend, I learned that all of this reminded her of the line from Ezekiel when the chosen people are grumbling against God: “But the house of Israel says, ‘The Lord’s way is not fair!’ Is it my way that is not fair, house of Israel? Is it not your ways that are not fair?” (Ezekiel 18:29). Who is not being fair? By definition, two contrarily-opposed parties cannot both be right. The bishop who teaches one thing, and the people who demand another cannot both be correct. Who, then, is being fair?
While the popular media are loathe to report it through this particular religious lens, a large part of ISIS’s pattern of violence is unarguably against Christians and particularly Catholics. Most recently, over 300 members of ancient Christian families in Assyria were taken hostage in Northeastern Syria. Extremist groups are slowly, systematically aiming to eradicate all who disagree with their interpretation of the Quran (including other Muslims), and the Church’s faithful are the most obvious targets. God is in no way done in these lands that deny him, and one day, these terrorists will come to see what Tertullian (Apology §50, around AD 197) meant, when he said “the blood of martyrs is the seed of the Church.” These otherwise unknown men, women, and children will hereafter be prayed for and remembered at every Christian liturgy throughout the world as, “blessed Apostles, martyrs, and all the saints …”.
Some 3,500 miles farther to the East, the Chinese government is also helping the Church mystically grow.