Return of the Prodigal Son by Pompeo Batoni - 1773

Evolution for the Catholic Student

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Sunday, July 29, 2012

Easy Prey

Easy Prey

This past weekend at Mass we heard the story of the feeding of the five thousand as recounted by St. John in his Gospel.  This, of course, is when Jesus fed 5,000 men with five barley loaves and two fish, leaving twelve baskets of leftovers.  There is plenty that can be written on this event, and it is worth hours of mental prayer on topics such as the Eucharist, the divinity of Christ, the New Covenant, and much more.
But what struck me this past Sunday was how the story ends.  The people wish to carry Jesus off and make Him king, so He departs from them.  Why did they want to make Jesus king?  Because they recognized Him as the Son of God, and Prince of Peace?  No, He says later that they are following Him because He filled their bellies, not because they have faith.
Imagine a leader who could multiply food at will.  Hunger and poverty would be a thing of the past for his nation.  We can easily relate to the sentiments of the men whom Jesus fed that day.  And yet, they were only thinking in material and temporal terms.  They missed the bigger picture and they kept closed the eyes of faith.  Jesus came as a man from God, and yet they seemingly did not consider His message or teaching; they wanted Him to be king because he healed the sick and fed the masses. 
The Roman emperors tapped into this weakness of human nature.  Give the people bread and they will accept all forms of tyranny.  It reminds me of what the Catechism teaches about the coming of the Antichrist:  a religious deception that will offer people apparent solutions to their problems at the price of apostasy from the Truth (paragraph 675).
The people in Sunday’s Gospel were blessed because they had Jesus, who refused an earthly kingdom so that He could prepare a place for us in his Heavenly Kingdom.  But when Antichrist comes, that will not be so.  There will be no such restraint and those who remain faithful to Christ will be persecuted, until Christ comes in glory, and brings with Him the final victory.
What does that have to do with us?  I believe we are like those people in the Gospel, willing to proclaim as king anyone who will give us bread, and missing what else he brings besides.  We live in a world that has completely shut God out of public life.  Our pagan culture has completely turned its back on God’s Law, and natural law, when it comes to life and marriage.  And now those human constructions that were meant to protect our freedom (i.e. the Constitution) are being set aside.
Anyone who speaks in defense of God’s Law or argues in the public debate from the basis of natural law is dismissed as a bigot, and subject to penalties, either legal or social.
Preachers are being arrested in Canada for teaching God’s plan for sexuality.  Chick-Fil-A is being demonized because its CEO believes in traditional marriage.  The Catholic Church is being forced to provide contraception or face the wrath of the federal government.  And babies are still slaughtered by the thousands daily.  And this is on what is supposedly the freest continent on Earth.
As our society crumbles around us, in the midst of a Presidential election, what do we hear?  This election is about one thing: the economy.  Does anyone believe that we will be slow to accept any leader who can solve our economic woes?  A culture war is raging around us, and the vast majority of American voters are just trying to figure out whether Barack Obama or Mitt Romney is more likely to lower the unemployment rate.  Yes, I would suggest that we are easy prey for the Antichrist.  May God protect us and bring us back to our senses before it is too late.