For all the talk about enduring suffering and have the courage to stand up for what we believe, we cannot hide that our enemy never retreats. Our enemy isn’t our neighbor nor our coworker. Our enemy is the devil and he get very frustrated when we stand for the truth.
Today the Church commemorates the Prophet Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist. According to tradition, he was murdered because his son was not found curing the slaughtering of the innocents. He and Elizabeth had hid John in the desert. He also caught the attention and rage of Herod because Zacharias insisted on listing the Panagia among the virgins even after the birth of Christ. He is the prophet mentioned in today’s Gospel reading.
The Lord said to the Jews who had come to him, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous, saying, ‘If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ Thus you witness against yourselves, that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers. You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell? Therefore I send you prophets and wise men and scribes, some of whom you will kill and crucify, and some you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from town to town, that upon you may come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of innocent Abel to the blood of Zacharias the son of Barachiah, whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar. Truly, I say to you, all this will come upon this generation. O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, killing the prophets and stoning those who are sent to you! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not! Behold, your house is forsaken and desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again, until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.'”
The voice of the prophets was always uncomfortable for the people. Keep in mind that the ‘prophetic voice’ does not refer to future telling. It refers to speaking warnings to people of what will happen if their behaviors do not change. Since most people want to be left along in their delusional behaviors, prophets are rarely embraced. Many were killed, and Zacharias was no exception.
It reminds me of our current moral debates. It isn’t enough to ‘tolerate’ certain behaviors. If we speak against them, we are attacked. The attacks come as pressure at first, to silence our opposition. Eventually, not being able to silence the truth, the attacks become more violent. The problem is the truth cannot be hidden because the truth is from God. We cannot escape God no matter how far or how fast we run. Eventually the enemy seeks to eliminate all opposition, and in a panic begins to kill at random.
If our Christian past has taught us anything, it has taught us the enemy never gives up. He will fight until the end of time, and still, he will lose. He knows his destiny but will kill as many innocents as he can in the meantime. This is the condition of a frustrated enemy. He has no place to turn but to die or repent. The devil will never repent.
I’m not sharing this thought today out of some desire for doom and gloom. I believe it helps to understand what is coming, so we can be prepared. There is a war coming for our souls and the souls of our children. The enemy will not retreat. Our only choice is victory and victory comes only in Christ.
It is true that Zacharias was killed, but the son he protected was the Forerunner of Christ. John the Baptist called the world the repentance and many found Christ, not all but many. Many of the saints made use of their ‘prophetic voice’ and have been calling us to repentance. Like in ancient times, many have found Christ, not all but many.
I say, let’s keep the enemy frustrated. Let’s keep using our prophet voice and call the world to repentance. We may not win everyone, but we will win many. Of course, we may also be killed, but with Christ on our side, even if we are killed we will live.