Saturday, May 21, 2016

What Defines You as a Man?

There are days when the battles get intense.  There are days when I get struck a harsh blow and get knocked to the ground. There are days when I want to exit the battlefield and just go with the current.  Thankfully, I cannot bring myself to that; the Scriptural exhortation about turning the other cheek rings in my ears.  You see, turning the other cheek isn't weakness.  You cannot run away and turn the other cheek at the same time.  You must stand your ground.  If that means picking up the sword an shield again, then that is what it means.  If it means getting thrust into the heat of the battle, then that is what it means,  What you do when you get knocked down as a man has much to do with what you allow to define you as a man.

God has one definition of you and the world has a another.  Both are based on what they desire you to be.  The world, nowadays, wants you to stay a boy.  It will encourage you to give into your passions, want ease and pleasure, to show little to no discipline or remorse.  Why?  Boys are easy to manipulate.  They are easy to bully.  God, on the other hand, expects something quite different and has created you to be not just a man, but a warrior.  The mettle of strength comes from the discipline of virtue.  Like a well tempered sword, the man as desired by God, is strong, lucid, and fearless before what would defeat him. He might get knocked down, but he is never defeated.  He might stumble through sin, but like a wise warrior, he recognizes it and addresses it through confession before it defeats him.

Where a boy cries over a pricked finger, the man of God bears his battle scars as badges of honor.  God does not want you to remain a boy, but grow into a strong man, a first class warrior who is worthy of being the protector and provider of those God places into his care.  A boy relies on his own strength; an act of hubris.  The man looks to his general, Christ, and models His life after His.

Make no mistake.  Jesus was no fair haired wimp, no hapless victim, no peace and love hippie.  He was bold and came into this world to take on a fearsome enemy, the devil himself.  He preached a Gospel and performed miracle after miracle...provoking the devil and his minions. earthly and otherwise.  Just when they thought they had him cornered at the Cross, just when they defeated Him at the crucifixion, he outflanked them and beat them by that cross and on the day of the Resurrection.  Jesus did not shrink away from a fight; he did not tell us to hold our ground and not hold His.  He didn't rely on the trinkets of pleasure, power, and wealth to conquer.  No, in fact, he told those who would follow him to cast such trinkets aside and engage in battle.  His hapless little group of disciples, infused with the Holy Spirit, boldly set out for all parts of the known world and made known the Gospel, even if it meant their deaths. 

Wouldn't it be great to have such fearlessness and boldness?!  Wouldn't it be great to be so full of holy boldness so as to be able to look at the forces of evil and say you have no power over me!?  This is the boldness that led St Maximilian Kolbe to stand up to the Nazis and to offer his life for another, even when the death to be suffered would be cruel.  It led St John Paul II to study for the priesthood when such was punishable by death.  It led St. Isaac Jocques to return to the Americas after having suffered at the hands of the Mohawk and Huron, and GO RIGHT BACK, even under threat of death and preach the Gospel to them anyway.  Over the centuries it has provoked courage and strength in many men to  forge into battle, knowing that even if they got struck down, they were still on the winning side.  Don't you want to be that stouthearted man?  I do!

Life is unfair.  People you rightfully should be able to count on can and will turn to be your persecutor and not you brother in arm. You will get knocked down time to time by those you trusted.  Trust no man, lay or cleric, over God.  If you have to stand your ground, then do it.  Christ wins...don't lose sight of that!  Fear keeps the warrior off the field.  So many young men won't even consider priesthood because of boyish fear.  So many men won't commit to marriage for the same boyish fear.  When we abandon the field, those who should have been able to count on us suffer the consequences as well.  That, my friend, is on us.

Want to be that man who stands his ground, who isn't ruled by fear?  Hone the virtues in your life.  See worldly pursuits as beneath your dignity as an adopted son of God!  This society and our families and churches need us be that warrior who stands his ground, who doesn't get bullied, and who doesn't lose sight of the victory.  Christ wins.  Know it!  Act on it!

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