Sunday, December 25, 2011
Tonight I watched midnight mass on TV, as has been my custom the last few years. I am sorry that Fort Wayne’s Current Bishop does not see fit to televise the mass locally, as John D’Arcy did. However, 21Alive decided to air midnight mass from Buffalo, NY, for which I shall be thanking them shortly. In his message, the Bishop started on a topic I’ve wrestled a lot lately- the battle against the poor, unfortunate atheists. Indeed, even tonight, the subject came up.
I felt moved to offer the olive branch to a group I’ve tilted against much lately, the FFR people. But instead of being an ass as I have been to my shame in the past, I posted them a simple prayer. Of course, I received the usual barrage of insults and crassness that I’ve come to expect from them. I merely responded, for a change, that I realized that I was sowing seeds on the hard road, but God has done greater things, and left it at that.
So I was only mildly surprised to hear the Bishop lead off with a story of dueling billboards seen at a nearby overpass. One atheist and announcing you don’t need a god for love, peace, or anything for that matter. The other stood up for the real meaning of Christmas. But the Bishop’s point in bringing this up became apparent next, and it was in two parts. First, you’ll never win battles for Christ on billboards. Second, the presence of such people and attitudes on this earth stands to remind us that we are to be about faith, about our relationship with God, a one-on-one thing that transcends societies and religions and histories. “You’ll never be able to prove God scientifically,” he warned, because belief in God is about faith, not proof.
And if you have any doubt about that, argue with an atheist. Assuming you find one willing to speak on an intellectual level, instead of those who just think they write clever crap for Bill Mahre, you will find that they will shut off your every avenue, and will not respect your personal relationship. I’ve done a lot of this in the past, and I think tonight I got told I was doing it all wrong.
I cannot trade ideas on an intellectual level with these people- not because I’m non-intellectual (the nice way of putting how I’ve been described), but because we have two different, competing, and diametrically opposed mindsets. I can never reach them on that level. I can only reach people of that mind by living my faith first, and letting them observe it for themselves.
Am I good at that? No, not currently. I hope tonight was a start, but posting prayers isn’t the same as just showing Christ through my life. As Laurie can tell you, it’s hard to take the argument out of a Martin. And there are times you have to stand up and be counted. My hope, though, is to put it in Jesus’ hands and get better at it.
And the first thing I’ve got to do is give up the notion that I can prove faith by their rules. In fact, Jesus pointed me to the ultimate verse that proves that point:
Luk 19:38 saying, Blessed is the King coming in the name of the Lord! Peace in Heaven and glory in the highest!
Luk 19:39 And some of the Pharisees from the crowd said to Him, Teacher, rebuke your disciples.
Luk 19:40 And He answered and said to them, I tell you that if these should be silent, the stones would cry out.
Not much chance of establishing that one “logically”; But in faith it’s so easy to do.
From all of us to all of you, a safe, happy, and God-blessed Christmas.