Summary: Bold preaching of the Truth of Christ may make us unpopular, but it is the only way to image Christ to the world.
Monday of 7th Week of Easter
Gaudium et Spes
Paul’s first visit to Ephesus, which was destined to be the most influential early Christian community in the area we now call Turkey, did not fit the pattern of his other entries into towns. Usually Paul would go to the synagogue first, preach Jesus as Messiah, experience rejection, but recruit a small number of Jews and a large number of Gentiles by his words and works. In Ephesus, however, he found what the Greek calls “which disciples,” or “certain disciples.” Luke’s narrative tells us that these disciples were actually followers of John, and had been baptized with his baptism of repentance, which was not sacramental. He told them about Jesus, and about the baptism into Jesus, which is best translated “saturation with Jesus,” and they were baptized and–in our language–confirmed. They then possessed the fullness of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and indeed the church of Ephesus became a powerhouse of missionary spirit.
What Paul did not do is leave them in their ignorance, out of human respect or political correctness. He boldly preached the truth, which in several cities had gotten him stoned and exiled.
Jesus, too, preached the truth, as John’s Gospel relates, “plainly and without analogies,” and he knew what he would get for it–abandonment by all except the Father and the peace given him by the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit. Christ’s disciples must always expect that they will be at best ignored by the culture, by the world, and, at worst, persecuted actively. We cannot be surprised when people hate us because we tell them they are engaged in self-destructive behavior, and that the only way to peace and happiness is through union with Christ and his cross.
The Fathers of the Council foresaw that a too-narrow understanding of the development of culture could harm the progress of man: “Indeed today's progress in science and technology can foster a certain exclusive emphasis on observable data, and an agnosticism about everything else. For the methods of investigation which these sciences use can be wrongly considered as the supreme rule of seeking the whole truth. By virtue of their methods these sciences cannot penetrate to the intimate notion of things. Indeed the danger is present that man, confiding too much in the discoveries of today, may think that he is sufficient unto himself and no longer seek the higher things.” This is particularly true when the mass media falls into a pseudo-scientific pattern that supports hedonism and its supports: population control, pornography, and the self-deceit that surrounds all violations of the sixth and ninth commandments. The media then pick and choose scientific results that seem to support their own perverse preconceptions, and ignore everything else. As a result, we got wall-to-wall coverage of the murder of homosexual Matthew Shepherd, and ignorance of the trial of abortionist Kermit Gosnell.