‘Give therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s’ (Mt. 22: 21). ⧾
Today is World Mission Sunday and Catholics throughout the whole world are invited to pray and sacrifice in support of the Church’s missionary efforts. Today, even the poorest parishes around the world give from their poverty to support the propagation of the Gospel; and so give to God the things that are God’s. What can we possibly give to God who possesses all things? First and foremost, our worship and adoration. When we give Him this we give Him everything for we acknowledge Him as Lord. The earliest proclamation of the Gospel was simply this: Jesus is Lord! The term for this is kerygma, and what this means very simply is that salvation is ours in Jesus Christ; that we place the totality of our lives under His sovereignty or kingship.
We serve the mission of the Church as the universal sacrament of salvation by professing the truth of our faith and living this truth in all charity. This is our work of faith and labour of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thes. 1:3). Our Lord Jesus Christ is not just a man; He is God the Son who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and became man. Through holy baptism and grace, we who profess our faith in Him become sons and daughters of God. In our tradition this is spoken of as our divine filiation. St John the Beloved Disciple declares: See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are (1 Jn. 3:1). And St Paul summarizes the whole of the Christian Mystery as it relates to anyone who comes to the truth of Christ: When the time had fully come, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’ So through God you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son then an heir (Gal. 4:4-7).
The Church proclaims the fatherhood of God revealed to us by the Son in the power of the Holy Spirit and through her sacraments makes this fatherhood a reality for the children of the Church. Through our adoption, our divine filiation, we are able to call God our Father; and as this relationship is nurtured and grows, we produce the fruits of holiness and these benefit the whole world. The charity of Christians speaks for itself; it is unparalleled. The empirical evidence of history shows that our Judeo-Christian heritage has done immeasurable good for the whole world. Nevertheless, in a world where a culture of repudiation of the past prevails, all too often facts are ignored and even suppressed. The challenges that we face as people of faith are great; for this reason we must trust all the more in the strength that comes from Christ Our Saviour and dedicate ourselves with even greater zeal to the work of faith and labour of love and steadfastness of hope in Our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thess. 1:4). The repudiation of tradition that for the most part has characterised the life of most Western nations, including ours, has weakened societies that were once unmistakably Christian in character. This repudiation of tradition has also weakened the Church; so much so, that many wonder whether the Church is now at the service of the New World Order.
I know that many of you are confused, and even dismayed by what you read and hear; by the publication of documents that fail even to acknowledge the spiritual and transcendent dimension of Christian life. Do not give in to discouragement because discouragement is the first arm of the devil. We possess the truth of the Gospel not in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit with full conviction (1 Thess. 1:5). The times are such that each one of us has to resolve to imitate to a degree that is heroic the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus (Rev. 14:12). The deeper our faith, the greater our hope. In fact, this patient endurance now in this confused and disoriented time is our participation in the great commission: Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age (Mt. 28:19-20). Our Lord is still with us, especially through the grace of the sacraments and so we are full of hope, despite the hardships we endure. We must take to heart the very same words Our Lord addressed to His disciples just before His sacred Passion: ‘In the world you have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world’ (Jn. 16:33).
It is not an exaggeration to say that we have entered into a time of tribulation. The great apostasy has taken place and the temptations we face are subtle. In the interests of the common good we are being pressured and coerced slowly and by degrees to compromise and accommodate. The spirit of the antichrist is at work. The antichrist is the one who denies the Father and the Son (1 Jn. 2:22); and so, we battle against this spirit by living out our divine filiation in the Holy Spirit with full conviction; and so, formed by divine teaching, we call God, Father. This is the truth revealed by our Saviour that unites humanity in the bond of faith and charity. There cannot be brotherhood among men, if it excludes the Fatherhood of the One True God, One and Triune. The Venerable Servant of God Bishop Fulton Sheen warned us of the spirit of the antichrist in our times: Because his religion will be brotherhood without the fatherhood of God, he will deceive even the elect. He will set up a counter-church which will be the ape of the Church, because he, the Devil, is the ape of God. It will have all the notes and characteristics of the Church, but in reverse and emptied of its divine content.
Making our own the endurance of the saints, we will do everything that we can to defend, affirm and promote the divine content of the Christian Faith which rests upon our belief in the divinity of Our Saviour Jesus Christ. The more unbelief attacks Thy divinity, the more humbly and profoundly we shall adore it, O Divine Heart of Jesus. So we pray at Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament every week.
In a vision that took place exactly two hundred years ago (October 1820), Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich a prophet for our times said: Even if there should remain but one true Christian, the Church would again triumph, since its foundations were not cast in the intellect of councils of men. She had never been without members praying and suffering for her. Let us resolve today to be that one true Christian; one who before the Lord, especially Our Eucharistic Lord humbly says, ‘Thou art my Lord and my God’. We do not worship the state, nor any earthly power. It is upon this divinely revealed truth of Our Lord’s divinity that we establish our life and seek to establish the Kingdom of God. This is how we give to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s’ (Mt. 22: 21). ⧾