Friday, April 21, 2017

Living In Unprecedented Times

The horrific images are still fresh in everyone’s mind: on this Palm Sunday, two Coptic church bombings took place in Tanta and Alexandria, Egypt, killing 44 innocent people and injuring more than 100. Only 4 months before, on December 11, 2016, a similar suicide bombing of another Coptic church in Cairo had killed 29 people and injured 45 others.

People have become so accustomed to evils, perhaps this is no longer considered news anymore: in a special report this month, the National Post revealed the biased ideologies of the administration of a university in Ontario that labeled the activities of pro-life groups as “adversarial”, “confrontational”, and “anti-choice”.

Nowadays, moral relativism is running rampant in schools, media, businesses, and all levels of government. Everyone is entitled to uphold their own truths, so it’s claimed. Those who insist the truths in which they believe are absolute and universally applicable, as do the Catholic Church and many religions, are considered “intolerant”.

Compared to the early day Christians, for whom denigration, repression and persecution were the daily norms, it’s no exaggeration to say that today’s Christians are not faring any better. What messages did the early Church give her faithful to help them deal with their adversities at hand? Many. And most of them are still useful for us considering the similarity between the early Church’s difficult experiences and ours. But here’s one from this Sunday’s lectionary readings that is particularly useful:

“In this you rejoice, although now for a little while you may have to suffer through various trials so that the genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold that is perishable even though tested by fire, may prove to be for praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 1:6-7)

We are living in unprecedented times – hopefully not the end of time. After many years of tensions and crises in Iraq and Syria, which have spilled over to the European continent and Asia Minor in many forms of terrorism and rogue invasions, the western countries and the Russian camp, which includes Assad of Syria and Iran, have come to a head over Assad’s chemical warfare, with both sides issuing ultimatums to each other and taking belligerent positions that are difficult to back down. A similar – if not more intense and dangerous – situation has also been developing in the west Pacific where North Korea is threating to “nuke” South Korea, Japan, and the U.S. mainland should the U.S. decide to bomb its nuclear facilities.

The Bible is filled with vivid predictions of the horrific hardships that the world will experience on the Last Day. Many of them bring to mind horrors that may well become a reality should a nuclear war break out due to one single miscalculated threat or human error in the Korean peninsula or in the Middle East. For whatever reason, stuck in my head are two very graphic descriptions in the Book of Revelation:

“Then I watched while he broke open the sixth seal, and there was a great earthquake; the sun turned as black as dark sackcloth and the whole moon became like blood. The stars in the sky fell to the earth…the sky was divided like a torn scroll curling up, and every mountain and island was moved from its place…They cried out to the mountains and the rocks, ‘Fall on us and hide us from the face of the one who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb, because the great day of their wrath has come and who can withstand it?’” (Revelation 6:12-17)

“During that time these people will seek death but will not find it, and they will long to die but death will escape them.” (Revelation 9:6)

As Jesus said to Thomas in the gospel reading: “Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed” (John 20:29). In a way, we see Jesus too: not in the manner Thomas encountered him, but in the word of God and the Eucharist. These indeed are unprecedented times that we live in. They may well be the precursors to the Last Day although we hope and pray that trust and peace would somehow prevail. But what are we to fear if Jesus is there with us in Peter’s boat, accompanying us to weather the storm (cf. Matthew 8:23-27)? “Thus we do not fear, though earth be shaken and mountains quake to the depths of the sea, though its waters rage and foam and mountains totter at its surging, the LORD of hosts is with us; our stronghold is the God of Jacob” (Psalm 46:3-4). Let’s hang in there and accept our various trials as a test of “the genuineness of your faith” (1 Peter. 1:7).

1 comment:

  1. Growing up, I tried to stay away from politics. As a matter of fact, I had no interests in politics at all. It was, many years back now, during a long trip to the States when I tuned into local radio stations and stumbled onto some talk shows and started to realize how intricately connected and relevant politics could be in our daily lives. Long story short, I'd been following US politics very closely since.
    Looking at the Middle East situation, I'd been lamenting the fact that the West did more harm than good in the region.
    Arab spring didn't work. Democracy does not work for Muslims. The only political platform that will work, and that will be accepted, is Sharia, which is the antithesis of democracy, which brings up the issue of the separation of Church and State. Can one really “check his/her belief at the door”, as politicians are asked to do? Simple answer is NO, that’s just absurdity. Premier Wynn didn’t check her LBGTQ belief at the door, she advances it at every turn, at every legislation.
    Speaking of LGBTQ, the human race has now circled back to the Genesis era when homosexuality was celebrated. Last time a reset button was hit in the way of deluge, this time around, I don’t know, we’ll see…
    Belief, whether it’s the revealed truth or man-made, drives our every decision and thus determines our destiny. Take Global Warming, for instance, the “science” of which is hijacked and now becomes politics. And from politics entered into religious realm. The Catholic Church is now engaged in green initiatives as a result of this belief: Global Warming, per encyclical Laudato Si.
    According to politicians and “scientists”, Global Warming is “settled” science and that CO2 is the culprit. Here you can see how a belief affects the spheres of science, politics, and religion, and eventually our destiny. On this I’d like to present some facts, then my own opinion.
    Fact #1:
    First off, there is no such thing as settled science. Science revises its own theories and premises when facts and observations arise that cease to align with current theories. The big bang theory has not been settled. The theory of evolution has not been settled. The “settled” science claim in itself is not scientific.
    Fact #2:
    CO2 is not the culprit of Global Warming. The Vostok ice core has proven that, before human entered into this world, CO2 concentration ALWAYS lacks behind warming periods. i.e. CO2 canNOT be the culprit. For if CO2 is the culprit, it would precede at least one warming period. Here I’m not debating whether we’re experiencing Global Warming (or Climate Change), I’m saying if we are, CO2 is NOT the culprit.
    Fact #3:
    Whenever CO2 concentration is high in past Earth history, those were the periods when forests and jungles grew super lush green. This is not rocket science. CO2 is plant food.
    Opinion #1:
    The assertion of CO2 being the Global Warming culprit is a money grab scheme, as you can see with Carbon Trading.
    Opinion #2:
    The assertion of CO2 being the Global Warming culprit is anti-life, which is in total alignment with government policies. We all breathe in oxygen, and breathe out CO2. By making it a culprit, I surmise that they’re laying the groundwork for 2 things:
    A. taxing our personal CO2 production;
    B. population control. Paul Ehrlich, author of The Population Bomb, and John Bongaarts of the Population Council were invited by pontifical academies to speak at the Vatican just recently.
    We cannot compartmentalize science, faith, politics, and our destiny.
    There aren't many things that we can do to change world politics, or how the world ends. But we are in total control over what we choose to believe, and therefore shape our own destiny.