Murdering for God
when everyone who kills you
will think he is offering worship to God.
These words from today's Gospel (John 15:26-16:4a) are chilling in this post-September 11th world.
We remember too well the audio recording of hijackers shouting the praise of God as they purposefully flew a jetliner full of passengers into the ground.
Some have seized upon September 11th and other horrific instances of terrorism as a way to impugn all those who take religion seriously.
As baseless and tired a canard as this is, enemies of religion hysterically keep repeating it. One character in a newly released movie puts it this way: "As long as there has been one true God, there has been killing in his name."
This trite intellectual laziness overlooks the tens of millions killed by atheists in the twentieth century alone, not to mention the countless massacres perpetrated by polytheists and by irreligious tyrants throughout the history of the world.
People kill people and they will misuse anything they can to do it: even religion.
I have told you this
so that you may not fall away....
I have told you this
so that when their hour comes
you may remember that I told you.
Our Lord's words in today's Gospel are a reminder for us to be prepared for opposition.
This opposition takes many forms. Sometimes it is explicit, murderous persecution (murdering for God in the sense of killing believers for their faith in God).
Sometimes it is the subtle path of manipulation: to make us forsake, dilute, or misuse the true faith (even to the point of leading people to do terrible things - even murder - for God, however falsely).
How do we prepare for this opposition (for persecution or for manipulation)? Christ tells us how in today's Gospel.
First, we prepare for opposition (for persecution or for manipulation) by remembering what our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ has told us, that is, by studying the deposit of faith diligently. Vague memories of catechism classes are often insufficient to prepare us for the specious arguments of the glib.
Most importantly, however, we prepare for opposition (for persecution and for manipulation) by the grace of God, by the gift of the Holy Spirit, and by staying close to the Lord in prayer and Sacrament.
When the Advocate comes
whom I will send you from the Father,
the Spirit of truth
who proceeds from the Father,
he will testify to me.
And you also testify,
because you have been with me
from the beginning.
"Murdering for God" is the battle cry of persecutors and manipulators of the true faith.
May we be prepared against these things by the wisdom and the grace of God.