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You are loved but you are also hated.

I heard the devil laugh this morning. No, it wasn't an audible send-chills-up-your-spine laugh. It was somewhere off in the distance of eternity. It was his, "why do you even bother", laugh. You know what I mean. It's the laugh you hear when a great revelation enters your heart and you want to share it with others and then, the devil tries to laugh you to scorn. He laughs and says, "nice thought, come up with that yourself? Do really think anyone will listen? Do you think they'll take you serious? Please, do yourself a favor and get a cup of coffee and read the Bible instead. Trust me, it will be less humiliating." I've learned to ignore that laugh and those taunts and have often paid a price for it.

Before some of you click on another link or jump to another blog let me explain to you that I am not crazy. I'm not hearing voices or taking medications. I have just recently come to a very serious realization that we would all do well to consider.

You and I have an enemy. Wait! Don't click away, I'm serious. You and I were born into the midst of a world at war. We have an enemy. How does that make you feel? Hopefully a little bit uncomfortable. All our lives we have been told that "God loves you", "Jesus loves you", "you are a beloved son or daughter." All of this is fine and good but it's only half the picture. You are loved more than you can ever imagine. However, you are also hated more than you can ever imagine. Not your typical Religious Education lesson is it?

Imagine a group of Marines that were told all during their training that they were special. During their training they learned how special they were, why they were special and how to live special lives. Now imagine them being sent into war. You get the picture! Not only have they not been told the workings of their enemy or the enemies goals and tactics, they haven't even been told they have an enemy. The perfect scenario for total disaster and loss of life.

Why do we not want to hear or accept this? The Bible, yes even the Gospel, no, especially the Gospel is filled with warnings, teachings, explanations, and tactics concerning our enemy. Were the demons Jesus cast out just quaint stories? Why do we skip over those in Sunday school? Jesus talks about the enemy over and over - "The thief comes only to steal, kill, and destroy,...(John 10:10). Okay class, now let's make a collage about that passage! Next week we'll make a felt picture about what Jesus means when he says, "An enemy hath done this" and "Satan immediately comes and takes away the word which is sown in them."

How can we or our children fight the battle for our very souls if we don't even recognize that we have an enemy? Okay, before you think I've watched Braveheart one too many times, take a look at Salvation history. Look at Genesis, the devil is after the human race by the third chapter. Look at Revelation, "Then the dragon became angry with the woman and went off to wage war against the rest of her offspring, those who keep God's commandments and bear witness to Jesus." (Revelation 12:17) Are you one of those offspring described? From the beginning to the end the enemy is present or as St. Peter puts it, "Be sober and vigilant. Your opponent the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, steadfast in faith, knowing that your fellow believers throughout the world undergo the same sufferings." (1 Peter 5:8-9)

Are you awake yet? Are you sober and vigilant? Do you get the picture, soldier? We are at war. We have an enemy. We have to start living like it! What would happen if you started living as though you have an enemy? What would happen if the Church started really living like that? What would happen if all realized that we are under attack? I would like to say that we would fight and kick butt.  However, this is a war and like a physical war we have to deal with not only the enemy but with our own wounded warriors as well. Many of whom are so wounded that they are dazed and confused, no longer accepting that they are in a war or worse yet, they are POW's.

We must wake up! We must fight! We must realize that we have an enemy and we are at war. If we don't, if we refuse to recognize that we are hated, we are lost. Does this mean that the turning of the battle rests solely on our shoulders? No, Christ is willing to fight for us and with us but will you invite Him to help, will you ask for His assistance in each skirmish if you don't even know you are at war? How can the Lord send in air strikes if He doesn't get the request? How could He ever get the request if His soldiers think they are on leave when they are in the midst of an epic battle? You get the idea.

Now, not everything that happens during the day is a bombing from our enemy. However, when things do happen that are not what we planned for, he's there in an instant. He is there saying, "See, if God really loved you He wouldn't have allowed this (car breakdown, sick child, marriage problems, etc) to happen. You can't trust God. You aren't loved.", and on and on and on. He is brilliant, crafty, unrelenting, and a professional. He took shots at Adam, Moses, David, and even Jesus. You and I are certainly not beyond his sights.

I know this sounds harsh but you have an enemy, you are hated. Get over it and let's get going. Prepare for battle - read scripture, make frequent recourse to the Sacraments, consult God often in prayer, learn the tactics of the enemy, and be sober and vigilant. Lift up your heads, O gates; rise up, you ancient portals, that the king of glory may enter. Who is this king of glory? The LORD, a mighty warrior, the LORD, mighty in battle. Psalm 24:7-8

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