Trusting God to Read the Signs
Before we describe as paranoia the thoughtful consideration of the possibility that there will not be a general election in November, we should take an educated look around the world today and throughout history and come to understand how people have thought that the drastic changes quietly overtaking them were only others' paranoia. Most in Weimar Germany never believed that the funny little man and his pitiful group of losers would ever be a leader let alone lead them into a world war which would destroy their families, neighbors, friends and lives and would leave a lasting sorrowful legacy for their nation. Few believed that a book written by a couple of pissed off intellectuals would result in almost 100 years of organized, government-sponsored terror, murder and poverty like the world has never seen in two of the oldest countries on the planet during a century that historians and popes have called the bloodiest in history. Calling a sensitivity to the lessons of history paranoia may be comforting in the short-term, but as Dietrich Bonhoeffer finally realized, it is foolish.
It is great to be a "Christ-watcher" during the storms in life, but that doesn't mean losing the God-given ability to read the signs and take appropriate action. Joseph accepted the signs given him and took Mary and Jesus to Egypt to escape the coming persecution. In the synoptic gospels, Christ tells his disciples the signs to look for that would mark his return and what to do, when they saw those signs. St. John wrote a whole book for the benefit of the Christian community about Christ's imminent return. As a result, no Christians died, when Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans in A. D. 70.
It does little good just to stare at Christ like a tight-rope walker stares at the far end of the line so he doesn't fall off. We are to go to Him every day in prayer and humbly and sincerely ask Him what it is He wants of us today. "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not rely on your own insights." "Thy word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path."
The point of the story about Peter walking on the water is that in the midst of the storm and, really, in spite of it, we are to be always walking towards Christ. Our safety lies in how close we are to Christ and even, when we do fall, Christ is always there to pull us back up. What a wonderful foreshadowing of the sacramental life of the Church! Right? Here Christ as a man is doing to Peter, what He now, as the Church, does to us. Through the grace of the sacraments Christ both draws us closer to Him despite the storms in life and picks us up, when we fall. How incredible is that?
We will never have in this country the persecutions that Christians in the Middle East suffer. That sort of persecution is easy to identify and easy to face. We in this country are far too intellectual and sophisticated for stonings and crucifixions in town squares. How many of us throw off our faith daily by what we accept into our own lives, simply because it is available in this country? The Devil is always much more effective luring us away from the faith by convincing us to become our own gods. The persecution Christians in the United States today face is the ready availability of everything that makes it so incredibly easy for each of us to find the exact justifications we need to decide to be our own gods. Do we have the grace to resist this persecution? Hence, the need to be so close to Christ as to have no other will but His and we can only do that through spending time with Him in prayer, in the Sacred Scriptures and in the sacramental life of the Church.
We have nothing to fear. The battle is won and Christ is the victor. By His Precious Blood, we are heirs to the kingdom and children of God, if only we follow His commandments. And what are they? "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it. You shall love your neighbor as yourself." The more we love the closer we are to God and the more we trust in His providential care of us. We do have nothing to fear, but that doesn't mean we don't move out of harm's way, when He tells us to.