Gift of religious liberty

I had a funny feeling things weren’t going to go our way with the Supreme Court ruling on the health care law. Some commentators were not only surprised but stunned by the decision to uphold pretty much the entire package, particularly when the swing vote came from Chief Justice John Roberts.  

I’ll admit the Roberts’ foul ball sent my head spinning for a while. But I wasn’t surprised the law survived. It’s not that I am a legal expert. It just seemed that a decision declaring the measure unconstitutional would have been too easy; too easy to declare victory and go back to thinking everything was going to be fine and we could all go back to our comfortable, carefree lives and concentrate on planning the summer vacation instead of organizing a rally. 

I don’t know if you were paying attention to the daily Mass readings during the Fortnight for Freedom. If you didn’t keep up with your daily devotional, it’s worth taking a look at what the Lord has been trying to say to us. On June 28, the day the decision was announced, the Gospel was from Matthew 7:21-29 where Jesus tells us our house needs to be built on rock. 

“The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. But it did not collapse; it had been set solidly on rock. And everyone who listens to these words of mine but does not act on them will be like a fool who built his house on sand. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. And it collapsed and was completely ruined.” 

The reflection in Magnificat that day was from St. Catherine of Siena. She gave us a sobering summary of the Lord’s painful purification process. St. Catherine says God allows challenges to occur ultimately to make us stronger and bring us into a more pure relationship with him. We can either run and hide when the storms of life come our way or we can stand strong in faith and allow God to do what he needs to do. 

“He is the master architect who knows what we need and he wants nothing else but that we be made holy. Whatever he gives and permits, whether temptation from the devil, or being tried and hounded by other people, or hurt or abused or any other sort of trouble, he gives and permits it for our good, either to cleanse us of our sins or for our growth.” 

The day after the Supreme Court ruling we celebrated the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul. In the first reading, from Acts, we were reminded of how an angel of the Lord freed St. Peter from prison. We learn how “prayer by the Church was fervently being made to God on his behalf.” In the second reading, St. Paul speaks of running the race and keeping the faith. And in case you need yet another statement confirming God’s sovereignty, you’ll take comfort in the Gospel for June 29. Matthew 16:13-19 affirms the Church’s ultimate victory: “And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I shall build my Church, and the gates of the netherworld will not prevail against it.” 

God is up to something here. In my 10 years as a Catholic talk show host, I can’t recall a time when the Church, both the shepherds and the sheep, have been so unified, organized and motivated. For too long we have taken our Catholic faith and our religious freedoms for granted. Yes, it would have been nice not to have to worry about fighting it out in the courts as well as the culture. But here’s a newsflash: This is not heaven. Words such as war and armor in the spiritual sense should be a regular part of our vocabulary. God willing, if we are going to make it to heaven, we first have to be a willing warrior and part of the Church militant here on earth. See you on the front lines. 

Teresa Tomeo is the host of “Catholic Connection,” produced by Ave Maria Radio and heard daily on EWTN Global Catholic Radio and Sirius Channel 130.