Daily Reflection
October 18th, 2003
Daniel Patrick O'Reilly
Registrar's Office
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Feast of St. Luke the Evangelist
2Timothy 4:9-17
Psalms 145:10-11, 12-13, 17-18
Luke 10:1-9

Sometimes when I read scripture I don’t get much out of it.  Sort of a “that’s nice,” but nothing earth shattering.  Sometimes it’s because I haven’t prepared my heart, sometimes I’m just not getting it.  However, there are times when the scripture seems to leap off the page and grab my heart.  Today is one of those days.

In 2 Timothy, Paul speaks of the challenges to him when spreading the Good News.  Men who desert him or stand in direct opposition to his preaching.  The Psalmist speaks of making God’s might known to men.  And in Luke, Jesus sends the disciples out in pairs as laborers for his harvest.  Christ warns them that he is sending them like lambs among wolves.

Paul speaks of Demas, who, enamored of the present world, deserted Paul and went to Thessalonica.  Lots of that in the world today.  And Alexander the coppersmith, who did Paul a great deal of harm and strongly resisted his preaching.  These passages really struck me.  Usually when I tell someone about my faith, I get a reaction of agreement, interest, discussion, tolerance or sometimes indifference.  Well, I recently met a gentleman who has been quite challenging to me.  He is a self-described evangelical atheist.  This man was once a believer, but has lost his faith.  He now believes there is no God, religion is evil and he is anxious to convince the rest of the world of his beliefs.

When I told him my beliefs, he was quick to challenge, ridicule, scoff and condemn.  My initial reaction was one of surprise and anger.  I quickly threw some of his statements back in his face and did my best to make him feel like a fool.  I was perplexed and confused by someone who said they had a relationship with God and now says there is no God.  I was angry at someone who would challenge my faith outright.  My initial prayer was for God to teach this guy a lesson.  However, I have since realized that my reaction is not the reaction of Paul, who proclaims “May it not be held against them!” or Christ who tells his disciples to greet each household with “Peace to this household.”  Also, my reaction was not one to convince a non-believer that a Christian is any different than anyone else arguing their beliefs.

So how should a believer respond when their faith is challenged?  First, it seems to me that we should seek to be as humble as Christ, so that the charge of fanaticism will not stick so easily.  However,  not for a minute does this mean that we should downplay our commitment to the truth.  We should try to be people who listen to reason, who admit when we do not know the answers, who admit when we are wrong and who do not use our faith as a tool to elevate ourselves over others.  Secondly, we should defend the idea that Jesus Christ is the Savior of all men, and that the scriptures are God's words to all of us.  The challenge is to embrace the truth of Christ, to present this truth to the world and not appear arrogant or intolerant.  I have to say that I did not meet my first challenge very well, but I have prayed fervently for guidance in meeting my next one.

My prayer this day is for those proclaiming the Gospel.  Missionaries who are greeted by resistance and persecution in the world.

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