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We are God’s household, the Church, the “pillar and bulwark of truth.” Jesus is the truth, but we are the bulwark that holds that truth up for the world to see and to give shelter to those who come seeking the truth. A bulwark, according to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, is a solid wall-like structure raised for defense. And in 1 Timothy 3:14-16, we are reminded of the importance of our conduct: What conduct is befitting for this responsibility?
We might feel like falling down on the job — our emotions easily lead us into other conduct, i.e., behaviors and words and choices that Jesus did not model. Our fear of being vulnerable to attack or our anger over evil-doings might be pulling us down. Being a Christian is not for wimps. It takes Samson-like strength to stand firm as a bulwark of truth. And where did Samson get his strength from? From God and from choosing the path of righteousness.
Holiness is never easy, nor is it convenient. It’s a choice, or actually a series of choices that we have to make every day.
This choice is what makes us either “like children” complaining to their playmates, as described by Jesus in Luke 7:31-35, or mature Christians who accept the wisdom of God. The path of holiness involves suffering, for we follow Jesus to the cross. For this reason, we instinctively choose to turn away from it. But hey, no matter which way we turn, we get hit by suffering.
Being a bulwark of truth in the midst of suffering is when we become the strongest bearers of truth. To see this illustrated, let’s look backwards in time. The scriptures for September 10th, the day before evil terrorized the world, were very prophetic. It was about the value of offering up our sufferings — what Saint Paul describes in Colossians 1:24–2:3 as filling up, through our own flesh, “what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ” (i.e., new sufferings) “for the sake of His body, the Church.”
Paul found joy in suffering; to him, it’s a very significant way to honor God.
No matter what the source of our sufferings, there are always two gifts we can give to God. The first gift is our life: Let the Lord decide what to do with our crises, our illnesses, and our other painful trials.
The second gift is our death: By dying to self, dying to our desires and our ideas of how we (or the nation) should overcome the suffering and protect us from new suffering, and perhaps even dying to this earthly existence as Saint Paul did, and doing it as a sacrifice of love for those who need God’s forgiveness or His intervention, we can accomplish much more good.
Let us not be complaining children who cannot see God’s wisdom, but instead, with His help, let us be the bulwarks that we are. Let us work and pray for this nation to seek justice, not revenge. Let us choose to be witnesses of the truth about preserving all human life. Let us ask for a miraculous way to avoid more destruction of innocent people as we bring God’s justice to the evil of terrorism. And let us pray that we stand fast in and grow in the understanding of the Church’s teachings on the death penalty, that we don’t seek a penalty of death for the evil-doers but instead find the path of true justice.
A “Just War” deals only with the immediate need for self-protection. Read what the Catechism says about it. The “Just War” principle begins with paragraph #2307.
© 2001 by Terry A. Modica
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