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I’d like to start off this podcast with a short prayer concerning our subject matter, Our Lord Jesus Christ and His peace:
Dear Lord, in these troubled times help me to see your way forward as the only true path to both the justice and the peace we in fallen humanity all desire. Give me the strength and equanimity through Your Spirit to follow you now more than ever. May “Thy will be done” in my life and in as many others’ lives as possible as well. Amen
This new decade, the 2020’s has had quite an ominous, unsettling start to it, to say the least! As the new year began, society was already becoming quite polarized on matters of politics and culture.
By no coincidence, Christianity in general, and Catholicism in particular, was having less and less of an influence in people’s lives, especially the young. And our faith was plagued not only with sex abuse and financial scandals but with a strange flirtation with apostasy and paganism at the Amazon synod where people bowed to the Pagan statue of Pachamama.
It didn’t take long for the new decade to bring about a seismic paradigm shift with the Coronavirus pandemic and lockdown creating a tsunami of retail bankruptcies, unemployment, and economic uncertainty exacerbated by a Mount Everest of global debt.
And now on top of that we’ve seen a major increase in societal unrest, including riots and looting. Suddenly everything seems somehow unhinged and future plans look tentative at best. It seems like the birth pains our Lord spoke of we’d see sometime before His Second Coming (Matt 24:8) are upon us, whether or not this is a harbinger of the End Times.
Lawlessness seems to be springing up in all our major cities like a bad weed along with political correctness running increasingly amok. The well-known cry “No Justice No Peace” is once again uttered by many people looking for secular solutions to what is at heart a spiritual problem: namely our profound alienation from God!
What we need to hear now, now more than ever, is this instead: “No Jesus No Peace”! Indeed, Our Lord told His apostles at the Last Supper “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, or be afraid” (John 14:27).
In addition it is worth noting that Jesus’ Gospel message is meant to bring about Justice, after all! If we were to follow His Commandments to love God with all our hearts, souls, and minds, and our neighbors as ourselves (Matt 22:37-39), we would be in a better position to achieve that more just society everyone longs for! That could in turn help bring about a more truly peaceful world.
Justice is one of the four cardinal virtues, along with prudence, temperance, and fortitude. Simply put, it entails our giving each person what is their due and showing fairness in all our business transactions and conduct with others, everyone, even with God Himself! This is the best way to promote harmony among people and with our Creator as well
Thus, we can see that a desire for justice is not in itself a bad thing, But the justice being called for these days seems mainly to be focused on creating some sort of humanist centered Globalist utopia with God taking a backseat or being left out of the picture entirely!
Societies with this model predicated on forcibly creating some sort of heaven on earth with little or no thought of God caused an immense amount of tragedy last century as millions of people perished in concentration camps, or from famines and war, under the Counterfeit Messiahs, the Modern Molochs Stalin, Hitler, and Mao Zedong.
Tragically, we’ve seemed not to have learned much since then! Can it be any wonder there’s so much sickness when we turn away from the Divine Physician?
Even before the Coronavirus pandemic Christ was shunted away in tabernacles located not front and center but rather off to the side, or even in a separate room in many churches. Now these same churches are just beginning to reopen to give hungry souls the bread of life in the Eucharist!
In this regard, it is also worth noting that a purely social justice gospel, which has been popular both in and out of the church for some time, tends to focus more on the redress of grievances than on helping people surmount their sinful natures with God’s help. It is more about redistribution than redemption.
It is not that we shouldn’t tend to the needs of the poor, or to seek to rectify economic inequities as they occur, of course. After all, Catholicism helped set up hospitals, schools and various other social welfare institutions in centuries past.
But if we just empower some increasingly remote and corrupt bureaucracy detached from our Lord and His teachings to take care of things we’ll probably just create more poverty and misery!
People need the internal righteousness and sanctifying grace our Lord wants to give them to do what is right for sure and not just for show.
Purely secular approaches do little to help fight abuses against justice “from the streets to the suites” at their source: people who feel free to indulge in their sinful, selfish proclivities with no concern for the consequences.
These include street thugs who see people as walking ATM’s to plunder, rather than as fellow human beings precious in the sight of God; and those in the white collar business world greedily engaging in all sorts of fraudulent economic activity.
The felonious activities from those in boardrooms are particularly scandalous. They enhance the widespread belief that the term business ethics is an oxymoron; and that the only way society can be free of injustice is to “end capitalism” and nationalize as many companies as possible.
It’s as if to say that virtue dies on the vine in the private sector but flourishes in the public, when this is not at all true. The people who run those state owned enterprises, collectives, whatever you wish to call them, can be just as fallible and sinful as their private sector counterparts, maybe even more so, as their efforts are more likely to be politicized than results oriented, and they are often quite incompetent at doing their jobs, but they will ruthlessly cling to their power nonetheless.
While we’re at it, let’s not forget all those in the middle contributing to this social morass against true justice, such as corrupt bureaucrats, politicians, and other public officials whose hands are full of bribes (like those mentioned in Psalm 26:10, attributed to King David); or those who otherwise have their thumbs on scales and are more concerned with lining their pockets than doing what is best for their constituents.
It is worth pointing out here that businesses, whatever their size, operating in a shady manner only contribute to destructive animosity towards any form of private enterprise, as mentioned earlier.
St. Augustine in his Confessions in addressing God wrote famously “You have made us for yourself and our heart is restless until it rests in you.” These days I would say our hearts are not only restless but also clueless!
Yet the cluelessness by no means obviates this restlessness but rather enhances it and channels it into a dangerous mindset where, once again, instead of worshiping God as man in Jesus we are to bow down to man as God.
The State is to be worshipped, not the Family, which becomes of secondary concern, if not an actual impediment, in the march towards utopia. This is a materialist worldview, one devoid of any supernatural faith.
As such it pays no attention to Jesus as God and not just some rabbi; and it doesn’t acknowledge any afterlife for us either in heaven, an eternal paradise or in hell, an eternal horror. (Which place we wind up in depends on how we’ve responded to God’s graces.)
This dream of some secular heaven on earth taking over, in a New World Order is truly a siren song. And it is seducing far too many people in academia, government, business, and most maddeningly, in our major media and what is known nowadays as Big Tech!
The renowned British author and commentator C.S. Lewis summed up the problem with this mindset quite well, touching on the eternal struggle between the forces of good and evil, of Christ and Satan in his great work Mere Christianity.
He made the significant point that mankind’s vain attempts to find happiness apart from God inevitably have resulted in tragic failure. He wrote that, thinking of ourselves as if we were part of a machine for a minute, we are meant to run on God’s fuel if we want true peace and happiness.
Otherwise, no matter how good the effort might seem at first, as he put it “Some fatal flaw always brings the selfish and cruel people to the top and it all slides back into misery and ruin. In fact, the machine conks. It seems to start up all right and runs a few yards, and then it breaks down. They are trying to run it on the wrong juice. That is what Satan has done to us humans.”
Or as Our Lord Himself told His apostles at the Last Supper “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, he bears much fruit, for without me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).
When society turns its back on God it invites all kinds of trouble, inspired in no small part by the one who will not serve, Satan, and his demonic minions.
When our leaders don’t see the need to "check in" with God on a regular basis in prayer and the sacraments to deal with their sinful inclinations, when they have no supernatural fear of God’s justice in dealing with their sins, they become more and more dangerously narcissistically self-centered. It’s their way or the highway!
There is no check on their poisonous pride and voracious appetite for power. And they figure, who’s going to stop them? They make themselves God! Pastor Martin Neilmoller saw that in Hitler in 1934. A couple of years earlier Hitler had told him that he would respect the rights of the Church.
But now, after the Pastor reminded him of that fact in the face of increasing repression, with swastikas replacing crosses on church towers, the dictator, as Neimoller put it much later, “grew wild. He cried out like a madman, ‘You have to obey! I alone determine what is and what is not Christian. I determine what the Church has to do. I and I alone am the Führer of this nation...If the Christian Church wants to fight me, I shall annihilate it as I have crushed and will crush all my other enemies. I don't mind walking over corpses as long as I reach my goal. I need no Christianity. Whoever won't obey will be destroyed, and that goes for you too’”.
And Stalin, the ruthless tyrant at the helm of the militantly atheistic Soviet Union, a society where purges were common and millions were sent to the gulag forced labor camps, once famously quipped in a taunt “the Pope! How many divisions has he got?”
(Actually his boss, our Lord, has legions of angels at His disposal, and one look at St. Michael the Archangel should be enough to make anyone realize they’re not at all just plump little greeting card cherubs!)
Also, along these lines we’ve seen those opposed to Jesus and His Gospel message try in vain to reinvent the wheel by imposing their own jerry-built standards of morality in place of His.
For example the Chinese Communist Party Chairman Mao Zedong caused the deaths of tens of millions of Chinese from famine alone with his Great Leap Forward from 1958-62.
This was a hair-brained attempt to enrich society through the tried and untrue Marxist methods of forced collectivization and abolition of private property rights. Needless to say, it turned out to be a spectacular failure!
He followed this up with the infamous Cultural Revolution from 1966-76, when youthful cadres armed with the Chairman's Little Red Book of quotations (his “Bible” for them, as it were) sought to stamp out what were called the four olds: Old Customs, Old Culture, Old Habits, and Old Ideas. In the end this only caused more chaos, oppression, and loss of life.
Citizens of North Korea under that governent’s tyranny have apparently undergone stringent public criticism/self-criticism sessions, which are a pathetic and brutal caricature of our sacrament of Penance (confession).
Rather than providing a source of consolation for the forgiveness of sins and a means to provide grace and strength to resist them further, one’s vices expressed publicly, rather than in private as in the confessional, become fodder for the control and intimidation of the populace for the powers that be!
The so-called church of Scientology has also apparently engaged in this tactic of allowing people to pour their hearts out and then using what they’ve said against them for their own means at some later time!
We also see in North Korea the all too real trap of government as a personality cult, starting with Kim Il Sung in the 1940’s up through His petulant grandson Kim Jong Un today. One could argue that all of the totalitarian regimes led by those in our rogues gallery were also personality cults.
A hallmark of Nazi jurisprudence, for example was for judges to ask themselves in rendering a decision what would the Fuhrer [that is to say Hitler] do! And a Soviet propaganda poster once proclaimed “Stalin is the people’s happiness!” And, of course, Mao had his infamous “Little Red Book” as mentioned earlier.
If we wish to stave off some Godless totalitarian nightmare hitting home here sometime in the next few years, it becomes incumbent for all of us to stay close to Christ in prayer, especially in the Rosary, a most powerful prayer given to us by our Blessed Mother Mary, and in the way we live our lives; and to share His genuine love and gospel message with others, fearlessly and lovingly!
Ask for Jesus' help and His peace, or at least His grace, to get you through these tough times. The more you let God in to work with you, as it were, through prayer, the sacraments, and daily scripture reading or other good spiritually nourishing commentary by the saints, for example, the less likely you are to “give the Devil his due”; which is a really horrible expression, actually!
It is also important, in fact vital, to point out the necessity of our having supernatural faith that Jesus wasn’t just some rebellious rabbi or a goodwill philosopher! He was and is God, always with us in general, but also quite present specifically in Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity in the Eucharist.
His miracles can’t be explained away, as some have tried to do in advancing the popular notion that Jesus didn’t feed the 5000 gathered to hear him one day, but that they merely shared food they’d brought with them ahead of time! No!!
As St. Peter famously said, when recalling our Lord’s transfiguration at Mount Tabor, when Jesus suddenly appeared dazzlingly radiant conversing with Moses and Elijah, “We were not following fictitious tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we had been eyewitnesses of his grandeur" (2 Pet 1:16).
The belief in the Triune God in three persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, as in our Lord’s Incarnation and His Resurrection isn’t the stuff of legends or fables. (Ironically enough many of those who dismiss Jesus as God have no problem following various Occult groups and beliefs.)
Adopting the theological virtues of faith, hope, and charity is a must! This can also help God help each of us in fighting Sin and Satan in the fear of hell and hope of heaven.
Our Lord once said that His yoke is easy and His burden is light (Matt 11:30). St. John the Evangelist reiterated this when he said in one of his New Testament letters ”For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3).
Jesus Himself gives a good short summary of the commandments when he tells the rich young man in Matthew’s Gospel “'If you would enter life, keep the commandments.' He said to him, 'Which?' And Jesus said, 'You shall not kill, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself'" (Matt:19:18-19).
Imagine how much less strife we would see in this world if we all made a better effort to follow God’s laws of Love established in the Ten Commandments! Pope Pius XI pointed out in his encyclical Quas Primas, in which he established the feast of Christ the King in 1925, that our Lord is the author of happiness.
He wrote “Oh, what happiness would be ours if all men, individuals, families, and nations, would but let themselves be governed by Christ!”
And yet, given our fallen nature from Original Sin, we make light of the Ten Commandments or disregard them entirely, more often than not. A great part of this is due to our own concupiscence. Bishop Fulton Sheen once said our souls are like battlefields in which civil wars are being waged between vice and virtue.
While our Lord’s Commandments are really laws of love, our response to them tends to range from lip service, to ambivalence (they’re good for Thee but not for me!), to outright defiance and even scorn (“Commandments? We don’t need no stinkin’ commandments!”). And this isn’t coming just from the secular forces mentioned earlier.
Even St. Paul himself spoke for all of us in one way or another when he wrote about his own fight with his sinful inclinations in his letter to the Romans (7:13-21).
Admittedly, as I touched upon in a blog entry about Social Sin, we human beings tend to have that ambivalence towards goodness along with desires to fill up the void in our hearts not with God but with the externals such as power, sex, wealth and prestige.
Given such an atmosphere, sinful and corrupt behavior comes quite easily to many of us and spreads like wildfire faster and more thoroughly than the COVID virus!
That’s why trying to go it alone without God’s help can yield such tragic, even disastrous results for individuals, families, and societies alike!
(This affects people “from the streets to the suites” as mentioned earlier as gangbangers, corporate executives, and politicians and other public officials alike all have their hands out for more and more ill gotten gains!)
It is also worth noting here in these inflammatory times when some people portray others as the serpents in the Garden of Eden that we are all sinners, no matter what our race, creed, sex, or nationality.
Satan is an equal opportunity destroyer, and will happily pit groups against each other as the source of all evil any way he can! (Remember also what Jesus called him in John’s Gospel chapter 8, verse 44, the father of lies!)
This is why, now more than ever, we need God to help us through these times to give us the graces to see us through all this tumoil with as much equanimity and peace of mind as possible. But we have to do our part in all this.
St. Paul’s answer to the dilemma of fighting sin in ourselves was to urge us to put on the Armor of God, with the belt of truth, the footwear of peace, the helmet of salvation, the sword of the spirit (the word of God), and the breastplate of righteousness (Eph 6:13-18).
What are elements of that breastplate of righteousness? Prayer, the sacraments, good spiritual reading, and engaging in the spiritual as well as the corporal acts of mercy. That is to say to help nourish people’s souls as well as their bodies. St. Paul added “With all prayer and supplication, pray at all times in the Spirit” (Eph 6:18).
The more you can see God as love (1 John 4:16) and not as some persnickety killjoy or tyrant, the easier it will be to respond to that love and to let Him give you a level of equanimity and peace you wouldn’t have otherwise.
We need Jesus to work on and with us both individually and collectively to help us deal with our vices and passions when they run amok, now more than ever! The less they are attracted to Christ, the more many people, in both high and low places wind up giving free rein to their lower, sinful, passions.
Keep in mind St. Paul’s salient advice in this regard from Chapter 4 of his letter to the Ephesians, mentioned earlier “Put away lying, and speak truth each one with his neighbor, because we are members one of another. Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down upon your anger: do not give place to the devil. He who was inclined to steal, let him steal no longer but rather let him labor, working with his hands at what is good, so that he may have something to share with him who suffers need... Let all bitterness and wrath, and indignation, and clamor, and reviling, be removed from you, along with all malice. On the contrary, be kind to one another, and merciful, generously forgiving one another, as also God in Christ has generously forgiven you” (Eph 4:25-28, 31-32).
This is a tall order to be sure, but one worth striving for if we are ever to get anything close to that true peace we all desire!
Don’t be discouraged or your moments of weakness or lukewarmness. God is delighted when you get back up from your falls as many times as needed, trusting in His help to do so!
As John Lennon sang in the humanist anthem Imagine “You may say I’m a dreamer” but I hope I’m not the only one! Join me in prayer and in making a sincere effort to let God work within you, as within each of us, to bring about a better world under what could be His peaceful governance, as St. Pius XI wished for us almost 100 years ago!
And let me conclude this essay by writng once again, rather than “No Justice No Peace”, “No Jesus No Peace!”