The best defense is a good offense. I don’t know who first said those words, but they make a lot of sense, and not just in the world of sports, to which the popular saying is often applied. I thought about this recently as my husband and I were reading the Scriptures using one of our favorite Catholic devotionals, “The Word Among Us” (www.wau.org).
The reflection for that day made me think about how many Catholics remain silent, making no effort to engage the culture. Some allow themselves to become weak and weary. They retreat altogether. With the exception of their Mass obligations and minimal involvement in parish life, they keep to themselves rather than getting more involved.
The first reading for this day was taken from Chapter 11 of St. Paul’s Second Letter to the Corinthians, verses 1-11. St. Paul is concerned about opponents attacking his message and how many followers were believing the naysayers and losing their faith in St. Paul and the Gospel message. The reflection encouraged Catholics not to run and hide.
“So what should we do?” it said. “Protect ourselves by living like hermits closed off from the world? Stick our fingers in our ears and cover our eyes whenever we go out?”
What really hit home with this reflection were the next few lines pointing out how retreat is really putting all the focus on our own meager efforts and limiting the power of God.
“Giving up like that is almost as bad as giving in to temptation. Why? Because when we try to hide from the world, we are telling ourselves that Jesus isn’t big enough to handle our challenges.”
I had never thought about ministry or our general day-to-day efforts to evangelize in that sort of light before. But it’s so true, isn’t it? We tend to put God in a box based on human limitations. Good things — and even amazing things — can and do happen, however, when we put our trust instead in Christ.
There is a recent cultural news item that illustrates the points in the reflection beautifully. It concerns the raunchy MTV program “Skins,” a show about and targeted to teens, that was so offensive and filled with so much sexual and degrading content that the Parents Television Council (PTC) called it the “most dangerous show for kids.” Instead of ignoring the program and hoping it would go away, the PTC and other family friendly organizations rallied the troops. They sent out e-bulletins, snail mail and emails. They contacted various federal agencies, encouraging an investigation regarding child pornography and exploitation.
And, most importantly, they encouraged viewers to contact the advertisers. Money talks, and one by one the sponsors stopped supporting “Skins” and MTV was forced to cancel the program after only one season. Concerned citizens joined forces and had faith that going on the offense would make a difference, and it did.
The very inspiring Scripture reflection forced me to think about what else I could be doing to make a difference.
“Rather than trying to wall yourself off from the world, go on the offensive,” it said. “In faith and in confidence stand up to all the voices and tell them that Christ is in you and that you are in Christ. Tell them that they are only shadows, weak whispers when compared to the power of the Holy Spirit and the divine life that he has placed in your heart.”
We can’t do this on our own. David had faith and defeated Goliath. By going on the offensive with Christ at our side we, too, can take on the giants of the current day, such as MTV, and win — that’s because with God, all things are possible.
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.