ON FAITH: Evil can strike anywhere; stay vigilant

 

October 13, 2023



I am not sure about you, but the Hamas terrorist attacks on Israel this past weekend woke me up. For a long time after Sept. 11, 2001, I was concerned about terrorist attacks. But more recently that concern has dissipated. First of all, because there haven’t been any large-scale terrorist attacks on American soil since then. Second, there are many other concerns to attend to in our own country, including economic, cultural, and other issues. But with these latest attacks, we see that there are still people who desire and have the means to commit such irrational terror. And couple that with the possibility that terrorists may have already entered our country, we can no longer have a false sense of security.

What happened to those innocent people at the Nova music festival outside Re’im, Israel was horrific. Reports of women being raped and hundreds of people killed. None of them ever thought that that would happen to them that day. None of them deserved it. I can see in that atrocity an example to us of the spiritual life.

I am reminded of what St. Peter wrote, “Be sober and alert. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). We just never know what today or tomorrow will hold. The evil one likes to lull us to a false sense of security and then he can attack us with temptations. The evil one likes us to fill our lives with distractions, the French call them divertisements, which can be translated as diversions. When we are distracted, focused on the things of this world, we don’t focus on what really matters, we don’t ask the bigger questions. Who am I? Who made me? What is my purpose? Why am I here? What will happen when I die? And I won’t seek the answers to those questions either. Ultimately, I won’t consider my relationship with God.

The liturgical season of Advent, which is the four weeks before Christmas, is the perfect antidote to this false sense of security or getting distracted. Christians spend this season praying, especially in the early or late hours when it is dark. Advent reminds us that the Lord will come again and we will be judged — when we die, or at the end of time, whichever comes first. We are called to stay sober and keep watch. The Caribou Coffee tagline, “Life is short. Stay awake for it” is perfect. I must stay awake and realize that my time may come when I least expect it.

My friends, we are blessed to live where we do. This may be one of the last areas terrorists would target, but we shouldn’t take it for granted. If we can learn anything from this past week’s attacks, we just never know when our end will come, and we must resist the temptation to false sense of security or get absorbed into a thousand distractions or diversions that take our focus off what really matters, such as our relationships with our loved ones and ultimately with God.

Father Nick Nelson is the pastor of Queen of Peace and Holy Family Catholic parishes in Cloquet. Reach him at [email protected].

 
 

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