of Creighton University's Online Ministries
July 8th, 2011
Kevin Kersten, S.J.
Chaplain, School of Law
Click here for a photo of and information on this writer.
Saint Paul confronted those who said that our mission from the Lord to go into the world like sheep among wolves is folly (1 Cor 1:23).
Who are the wolves?
They are men and women driven by the forces of evil. Forces like greed, self-centered ambition, and arrogant pride.
These forces are strong in our world. We’ve all succumbed to one or more of them at one time or another. When we do, and recognize in the process that we demean, compromise, or injure others, we confess that we have sinned. We are all very vulnerable to these forces. They wear attractive masks, and they can become addictive. When the forces are victorious, their victims often become their agents, and they are the wolves -- like the officers at Enron, the smartest guys in the room; or the coaches cheating their way to championships; or the terrorists who called the shots for 9/11. They are the bullies of our lives. The pornographers and child abusers, the hucksters who become sensationalists in news and entertainment, the petty thieves and the men and women unfaithful to their spouses. All these agents are the greedy, selfishly ambitious, and arrogant ones.
Our Lord does not ask us just to confront the agents: He calls us to deal with the forces which inform and enlist them – the forces of evil themselves, whether you call them the world, the flesh, or the devil. He counsels that we must do so attentively, intelligently, and with discerning judgment: to be wise as serpents. He tells us to do so with simplicity, purity of heart, and peacefulness: to be innocent as doves.
Folly? To the world, certainly yes. But not to us, the members of Christ’s own Mystical Body. As faithful individuals and as communities of Faith – across the globe and in our personal lives – we are called to bear the Cross of Our Lord precisely in those places where the Cross is deemed a folly. When we do so, we do it to perform Christ’s own mission: to foster reconciliation among those who are divided and who neither relent nor forgive; to forgive the tresspassers, even and especially the ones who trespass against us; to heal and represent the sick, the wounded, the poor, and the oppressed in the very environments and territory where the forces of evil are prevailing.
To do these things requires the virtues of humility, courage, trust in God, and generosity of spirit. It depends upon the nourishment of the sacraments and prayer and upon the graces of Faith, Hope and Love. With such virtue, nourishment and grace – and as long as we abide in the Redeeming Christ – we sheep will scatter the wolves. The forces of evil will fail, flee, and end up defeated.
When we confront them, we will surely pay the cost. Salvation costs. Anyone who has ever tried to actually save someone knows it costs. Salvation requires sacrifice. Dealing with evil and caring for those who suffer it will often lead us through humiliation, insult, and – for the martyrs among us – death.
The cross therefore seems a folly to the world. But it is part of our mission – a mission given us by Our Lord who accompanies us as we pursue it. The witness of our lives in our pursuit demonstrates that the cross of Christ is by no means a folly. It is wisdom. We are wise to know that being innocent with Christ on the cross will lead us with Him to Resurrection and Easter Joy.
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