In the wake of the recent Supreme Court decision regarding same sex marriage, many have speculated that the Church is in danger of losing her tax-exempt status. This unprecedented change would dramatically alter the Church in America, as tithing, Church property, and other related elements would now be liable for taxation. In many areas of the country, the Catholic Church already faces diminishing resources and some dioceses have even filed for bankruptcy. The added financial pressure of taxation could cripple many annual parish budgets and lead to a significant downsizing in much of what we consider to be “normal” Catholicism. We are looking into the void and seeing a very unclear future.
Here’s the question: does this emerging reality cause you significant stress? Are you worried? Are you afraid?
I think an honest answer to those questions could be a resounding “YES.” How could we not be stressed, concerned, and afraid as we face potential persecution, hardship, and struggle? Facing the unknown often elicits fear and that fear is magnified when it seems like things are spiraling out of our control. In these moments, diving into Scripture and listening to God’s word provides a radically different perspective than our fickle human hearts.
“…and you joyfully accept the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one. Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward.” Hebrews 10:34-35
In this passage, the author of Hebrews sought to encourage the readers who heard and believed the Gospel, but faced persecution. In light of the current world around us, I found verses 34 and 35 to be particularly compelling and challenging. These early Christians so embraced the Gospel that while their earthly property was stolen they joyfully accepted their new situation.
Brothers and sisters, we have a better and more abiding possession than anything the world has to offer. The promises of Christ, the power of the Holy Spirit, and the love of the Father allow us to confidently accept persecution and respond with joy. To be fair, this truth is much easier to read or write than it is to internalize and wholeheartedly believe. Let me humbly suggest three things we can do to grow in our capacity to lay hold of our confidence in the “abiding possession.”
- Spend more time with Jesus—particularly in the Eucharist. We will be bolder, more joyful and peaceful, if our lives our anchored in the time we spend with the Master. Take more time for Eucharistic Adoration and receive the Eucharist multiple times a week. More time with Christ means our desires and fears are conformed to His, and He’s never afraid.
- Ask for more of the Holy Spirit. Experiencing the life of God and His promises requires a greater openness to the power of the Holy Spirit. Frequently invoking the Holy Spirit and simply asking for more will allow Him to fortify your heart and provide you with the weapons, like the Sword of the Spirit, necessary to both defend yourself and take the offensive by speaking the truth in love.
- Say thank you. A grateful heart is a peaceful heart. (See Philippians 4:6-7) Let’s spend more time thanking God for His blessings and His love. Take a step back and look at all that He has done for us and marvel at His goodness. Thank you Jesus!
As we move into a new era in the Church, let’s not forget the joy that comes from knowing and loving Jesus Christ; He is a rock on which we cannot be shaken!