Thursday, November 29, 2012

"I Can't Wait to Watch It All Burn!"

Let's get our Book of Revelation on!  From today's first reading:

"With such force will Babylon the great city be thrown down,
and will never be found again.
No melodies of harpists and musicians,
flutists and trumpeters,
will ever be heard in you again.
No craftsmen in any trade
will ever be found in you again.
No sound of the millstone
will ever be heard in you again.
No light from a lamp
will ever be seen in you again.
No voices of bride and groom
will ever be heard in you again.
Because your merchants were the great ones of the world,
all nations were led astray by your magic potion." (Rev. 18:21-23)

Of course the Gospel for today talks about the end times, destruction, persecution, the end of the world, flames, etc.

I think there is a temptation for Catholics who try their best to follow Christ and live out the Catholic Faith to get excited when we hear about "Babylon the great city" the country whose "merchants were the great ones of the world" being razed and burned to the ground.

The temptation: "finally, all the wicked people will see I was right, all the people who hated me, who spat on me, who lied about me, who slandered me, who cursed me, they'll all finally see I was right!!!"  There is a temptation to see ourselves as above this fray, above Sodom and Gomorrah, to hold our noses at the stench and filth that exists in our world and say "well, I told you so."

...But neither the saints nor the Church have ever taken that stance.  We don't live in the first society that morally speaking is going down the toilet.  The Church was just coming online as Rome was plummeting towards its glorious destruction and pillaging by the "barbarians" (which side were the "barbarians" is open to interpretation), and the Church has seen lots of other civilizations and nations rise to the top before gloriously and triumphantly imploding into a dung heap.

The saints and the Church call us not to aloofness but to do something try to call out to people EVEN as they spit on you, even as they mock you, just as they did with Jesus.  The saints before us and the Church both ask us to not disengage, but to redouble our efforts in fasting, penance, almsgiving, etc.both for our own continuing conversion and for the conversion of those we live with.

We may live in Babylon the Great, and it may tire us, and we may be tempted to throw our hands up and say, "LATER!  I'm out of here, I'm going to go get a good book to read as I watch this country burn from a safe distance."

but disengaging and waiting for the sky to fall isn't an option for any true Catholic.  Until the sands of time expire, we are asked to see every person as a member of the Body of Christ, and to work like heck to help every last person attain salvation, ourselves included.