Some among American Catholics tend toward the histrionic and use language to suggest the Church is under attack whenever there is critique of the Church or we loose some political battle. We need to be a bit more sanguine about own situation and global in our perspective.
This Fourth of July weekend we pray for a Coptic Orthodox priest in Egypt who was shot in the head this week simply for being a priest. Last month in Nigeria four churches were burned down. And I could go on with stories of places where even today Christians face true persecution.
The real question is: how are we to respond? Today's gospel gives us at least one important instruction. In the same breath that Jesus tells the disciples like lambs among wolves, he says "Carry no money bag, no sack, no sandals" —forget sword or shield. It appears that he is sending the out defenseless. But that is only appearance. In reality, he sends them out with the only thing they need, the Truth.
Friday Pope Francis release his first Encyclical Lumen Fidei, the Light of Faith. In part what he deals with is the importance of truth, and the power of the truth. What is most interesting , however, is that rather that taking a triumphalistic approach( the stereotype of the Catholic Church), he focuses on the necessary link between truth and love. He writes that "believers know that, rather than ourselves possessing truth, it is truth which embraces and possesses us." And later he writes that on the one hand
...love requires truth. Only to the extent that love is grounded in truth can it endure over time, can it transcend the passing moment and be sufficiently solid to sustain a shared journey.
And on the other hand,
Without love, truth becomes cold, impersonal and oppressive for people's day-to-day lives.
Evil and sin will always exist in this life, but ours cannot be a response of hatred and anger. Instead we trust God, we stand in the Light of Faith, and we strive to maintain that perfect equilibrium of Love and Truth. And through it all we remain at peace, because, as our reading from the last chapter of Isiaiah reminds us today, we have the sure and certain hope that in the end the Truth will win.