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July 28, 2012 at 03:02 PM PST
From Admiration to Rejection
by Reverend Rodel G. Balagtas
First, the admiration, then, the rejection. “Where did this man get all this? What kind of wisdom has been given him? What mighty deeds are wrought by his hands? Is he not the carpenter, the son of Mary, and the brother of James and John? And they took offense at him.

As Jesus experienced this rejection from his neighbors and family members, immediately after their demonstration of awe with his extraordinary gifts, Jesus realized how hard it is for a prophet to be accepted in his native place and among his own kin. How much more then if they knew that the person they saw grow up was more than a prophet, but the long-awaited Messiah, the Son of God?

Their lack of faith amazed Jesus.

The Catholic Church has experienced the same gamut of admiration and rejection. The impact of the Catholic Church on culture, arts, education, medicine, philanthropy, and service to humankind had stunned people of different generation. Absolutely, the Catholic Church had its errors and weaknesses, but its powerful positive influences on the society and in the lives of billions of men and women overshadow these limitations.

In his book, Rediscover Catholicism, Matthew Kelley gives an example of the Catholic Church’s contribution to the American society: “The global reach and contribution of the Church is enormous, but the national impact of the Church on every aspect of society is also impressive, though largely unknown. In the United States alone the Catholic Church educates 2.6 million students every day, at a cost of ten billon dollars a years to parents and parishes. If there were no Catholic schools, these same students would have to be educated in public schools, which would cost eighteen billion dollars. The Catholic education system alone saves American taxpayers eighteen billion dollars a year.”

Today, however, we find people expressing their indignation toward the Catholic Church, especially now that the Church is “prophesying” about the free exercise of religion, in which no government should tell religious organizations either what to believe or how to put their beliefs into practice.

The anti-Catholic propaganda in Lon Angeles Times on the 4th of July by Freedom from Religion Foundation, urging “liberal” and “nominal” Catholics “to quit the Catholic Church en mass is a recent example of this indignation. The propaganda hits the core of being of many of us whose love for our Catholic Church runs deeply into our vessels. Our faith identifies us in powerful ways, and if it others attack or disrespect it, we get tremendously hurt and offended.

We must not let any anti-Catholic propaganda influence negatively our thoughts and actions. Instead, we must take the challenge to be more Catholic. In our dialogue with the world and the modern-day culture, we must stand up as Catholics and tell people what we believe. We can’t be timid about our faith.

Archbishop Jose H. Gomez is right in saying that “the greatest threat to our freedom of religion doesn’t come from our government or from forces in our secular society; the greatest threat we face comes from our own lack of faith and our lack of courage.”

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