Eighty years ago this week, an event occurred that ended our reluctance to confront the greatest axis of evil in all of human history.
We had spent the previous decade watching idly as Japan, Germany and Italy invaded nation after nation, exploiting, oppressing and enslaving a billion people worldwide. By Dec. 7, 1941, the axis powers had already conquered 13 countries and would soon invade eight more, and still, we did nothing until that day when we ourselves were attacked at Pearl Harbor.
Had we stood up to this evil earlier, made straight the path of freedom and leveled oppressors earlier, 100 million lives might have been saved. But we acted like confronting evil was none of our business. Pearl Harbor taught us the foolishness of failing to confront evil before it’s too late.
That’s what John the Baptist was doing out there in the desert: Confronting the evils of his day, both the small-scale personal sins that do so much damage to individual lives, and the larger evils tolerated by society as a whole.
John condemned especially the shameful behavior of the ruling class of his day,
Everyone knew it was suicide to defy the Romans and King Herod, their puppet, so they just acted like confronting these evils was none of their business. John the Baptist, however, believed that nothing is impossible for God and that faithfulness to God requires that we confront evil, regardless of what it may cost us personally, even at the cost of our very life. So John did what he could to make straight the path of freedom, level oppressors and call people to conversion before it was too late.
Our world today is not that much different from that of previous generations. People and nations — including our own — continue to pursue power, possessions, pleasure and prestige at the expense of the poor and vulnerable. Sexual immorality — and even worse, abortion — continues to cause tremendous damage to individual lives and to our society as a whole. And isn’t it true that we mostly act like confronting these evils is none of our business?
Pearl Harbor should have taught us the foolishness of failing to confront evil until it’s too late. And no matter what kind of evil, evil destroys, enslaves, oppresses and exploits. Remember, nothing is impossible for God. Like John the Baptist, we too are called to do what we can — in our time — to make straight the path of freedom, level oppressors and call people to conversion before it’s too late.
Bishop Anthony B. Taylor delivered this homily Dec. 5.
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