I just finished reading the very familiar Ephesians passage that talks about “putting on the armor of God”, etc., along with the Word Among Us meditation on this passage. I found the following from their meditation very insightful, especially considering the way so many seem to use their spiritual “tools”.
Look at this passage again, and identify the instruments of battle that Paul lists: a breastplate, boots, a shield, a helmet, and finally a sword. Did you notice that only one is a weapon? The rest are meant for protection against attack. Notice, too, the posture that Paul tells the Ephesians to take up: They are to “stand firm,” ready to “resist” evil when it comes at them, and to “stand fast” whenever they are attacked (Ephesians 6:11,13,14).
Why is this important? Because there is a battle going on all around us, and we need to be aware of it. But our calling in life is not to wage war against enemy forces. Our calling is to build the kingdom of God, keeping our eyes on Jesus, not on our enemies. We simply need this armor to protect us when the devil tries to wear us down.
What about you? Where is your focus? On your enemies? Or on all the good that you can do? People need you to show them the way to Jesus—far more than they need to see another superhero!
It is, unfortunately, much easier to use the “weapons” of the battle to try to be the “superhero” in bringing people to God. Actually showing people the way to God involves actually living the gospel we claim to believe and imitating the Christ, and his message, that is the only “way” to God.
St. Francis knew that well, which is why he advised to “preach the gospel always; use words if necessary.” If we are truly focused on God our actions and words will reflect that and people will be naturally drawn to find out where our peace and joy comes from. It is what caused the very early Church to grow by leaps and bounds despite tremendous persecution and the danger to one’s very life. It is what caused people to look at Francis’s radical poverty and stop in their tracks to embrace his total love for God, inspiring a growth in the Church that had likely not been seen since that early Church.
I know I far too often find myself trying to play the superhero, thinking it is MY puny efforts that are bringing people to God. :rolleyes: In the end, I’m just a leaky pot that occasionally lets enough water drip out to water some of the Master’s seeds, while just as often just trampling others because I’m not paying attention.
I’ve found in my better moments that the best weapon I have in helping someone find God is the cross. But amazingly it’s not MY cross; it’s the one I help someone else carry. Now if I can just spend less time making their cross heavier instead of lighter I might actually do some good.