” … God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.”

Jn 3:17

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Catholic and non-Catholic friends of mine (including parish priests) comment often on the silence of Church leaders in the face of anti-Catholic and anti-Christian conduct (including the violence aimed at Christians and Catholics in the Middle East) and the hostility to Christianity, religion and the role of faith here in the United States.

It is hard to comprehend such a departure from what has been our historic commitment to fostering the role of faith in American history and representative democracy.

Perhaps, once again, as to the above we can learn from Christ and from Scripture. I cite but one significant case: the case of Nicodemus in Chapter 3 of the Gospel John.

Nicodemus was a Jewish Pharisee, a leader among the Jewish people.  He came to Jesus at night so as not to be seen by others, and he addressed Jesus as one who was “a teacher … from God” and one who performed miracles.  Ironically, Nicodemus spoke much like Satan did in the desert.  He like Satan focused on Jesus as one who performed miracles (as to Satan – his tempting of Christ to turn stone into bread).

Yes, Nicodemus saw Christ much as Satan did – a man of miracles, a teacher and not more.

Jesus, of course, rebuffed Nicodemus thus: “Amen, amen, I say to you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.”

The point, of course, that Jesus is making is this: “What is born of flesh is flesh and what is born of spirit is spirit.”

Yes, Christ tells us that those consigned to live in the flesh without a spiritual depth cannot see, are blind, limited, will not know God nor fully develop, live in faith, fully believe, be fully alive and prepared for eternal life.  Neither Believers nor leaders are they.

The point made to Nicodemus explains the silence today of those like him who in our time and culture do not see, do not believe, do not possess the depth of faith that Jesus identifies and offers to Nicodemus and to us.

Yes, earthly things are not heavenly things.  To be trapped in earthy matters is to be blind to heavenly matters, to live less than what is offered to each of us.

This is where we are today in the West and in the United States: we live in an Age of Unbelief, an Age of Apostasy.  We are subject to tragedy and grievous error and loss as a result.  Ones sees this unfolding today.

The human person, divinely created, is equipped to live beyond the material realm – beyond time and space and mortality.  But alas, we have been reduced to far less than we are – reduced to craven desires, greed, corrupted in many ways, now foolish lords of our own destruction.

Do you want to understand where we are today?  Remember what Jesus said to Nicodemus:

” … this is the verdict, that light came into the world, but people preferred darkness to light, because their works were evil.  For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come toward the light, so that his works might not be exposed.  But whoever lives in truth comes to light, so that his works may be clearly seen as done by God.”  (Emphasis added.)

In an Age of Apostasy, you cannot wait for institutions and those who hold positions in them to act.  No, you are challenged precisely as Jesus challenged Nicodemus.  Faith is a personal matter, a challenge to live fully, deeply, in the Spirit.  And to live in witness to Christ.

It all comes down to belief.  Do you believe when the secular world and its minions exert power to eradicate belief?