“Ron Reagan, lifelong atheist, not afraid of burning in hell.” President Ronald Reagan’s son smirked at the end of his commercial on behalf of the Freedom from Religion Foundation.* Really? Not afraid of burning in hell? Though startling, not surprising as our culture has become increasingly secular. But this is not the first nor the last time that a culture, government, or individual has mocked Jesus Christ.
In 1925, Pope Pius XI established The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe to counter the growing secularism in Europe. The chosen Gospel for His kingship recounts the crucifixion, where the “rulers sneered at him,” “soldiers jeered,” and “one of the criminals hanging there reviled Jesus, saying, ‘Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us.’” And the good thief rebukes, “Have you no fear of God?”
Mr. Reagan apparently has no fear of God as neither heaven nor hell exists to him. No fear—reverence, respect—of the One who “created all things” and died “to deliver us from the power of darkness.” While some individuals are too proud to bow before the living God, others are sincerely searching. The Christian faith confounds the unbeliever: a virgin conceives; God becomes man; the King of the Universe serves the lowly; God dies for each sinner. These truths only become reasonable when understood in the light of faith.
As Bishop Robert Barron writes: “God cannot be analyzed scientifically the way one would study the things of the world, but God can be approached through religious reasoning, or Faith. Faith is often criticized as unintelligent tomfoolery. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The Catholic tradition reveals that Faith is a rational reaction to God in the religious person. It is the reasoning of the religious mind.”
As Christian parents/grandparents, we name grace—God’s living presence—by cultivating faith in our children by praying with them, taking them to Mass each week, living the liturgical seasons in the home, and serving the poor and poor in spirit. We steep our children in the knowledge of faith. As Bishop Barron insists, “We need to stop dumbing down the faith.” With faith, we realize we are most human when we bow low to Christ, our King.
The truth is none of us can save ourselves. With some atheists, I think: “Have you no fear of God?” Yet God loves the atheist as much as the saint. The atheist—friend, neighbor, even family member—has not yet received the gift of faith. John Paul II wrote, “We never impose, we propose.” With joy and genuine love, we propose the God who died to save us. And we offer daily acts of sacrifice for the conversion of all those who doubt so that one day, she or he will hear Jesus say, “Today, you will be with me in Paradise.” Now, that’s good news!
*Please read the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States to learn about Religion and Freedom.
How do you cultivate faith in your children?
Photo by Josh Applegate on Unsplash
Naming Grace in the Domestic Church reflects on Scripture through the lens of a parent/grandparent. To read more reflections or to connect with Mary Pedersen: www.marypedersen.com
The blog on this page presents reflections on the Sunday readings through the lens of a parent/grandparent, aiding leaders of the domestic church in their vital task as “first heralds” or “first preachers” of the Good News in the home.