“Finally, draw your strength from the Lord and from his mighty power. Put on the armor of God so that you may be able to stand firm against the tactics of the devil. For our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens. Therefore, put on the armor of God, that you may be able to resist on the evil day and, having done everything, to hold your ground. So stand fast with your loins girded in truth, clothed with righteousness as a breastplate, and your feet shod in readiness for the gospel of peace. In all circumstances, hold faith as a shield, to quench all [the] flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” (Ephisians 6:10-18)
There has been a recent stir of news lately in regards to the young U.S. soccer star Jaelene Hinkle dismissing herself from two international friendly matches as an apparent response to the teams celebration of gay pride throughout this month by wearing rainbow colored jerseys for the matches.
There have been no direct statements from Hinkle as to why she made this decision, but there is great clarity in her faith of Christ proclaimed through her use of social media.
It seems that taking a Christian stand, done so humbly is regarded as hate. Hinkle did not proclaim any agenda specifically in this recent dealing, nor did she seek to attack or put others down she simply dismissed herself “citing personal reasons”, and in this very simple action is a multitude of love for God and of course a love of neighbour. Albeit a love that is truly misunderstood and misrepresented today.
Criticism will surely come from this and the world will not understand. For the Christian there is comfort. Our first reading today from St. Paul reminds us that we are encouraged through Christ in all of our afflictions. The timely Gospel of the Beatitudes also highlights the complexity of the Christian life and the radical call to love we must fulfill in servitude to God if we are to call ourselves Christians at all. These are tall orders, but we are not unaided.
In all of this stirring of Hinkle’s refusal to put on this jersey, what may sadly be dismissed is the “armor of God” that she puts on. To isolate her refusal and dismiss her acceptance of Christ and what this truly means is to look past a boldness of faith and a fulfillment of love that the world so desperately needs.
It also brings into question our own Christian witness, and the temptation to remain lukewarm in order to be accepted, to avoid persecution, and to consequently live as a “closet Christian”.
To isolate what one is against without investigating or reconciling ourselves to understanding what one stands for is to have only half of the story. As Christians we also do a disservice if we parade around pointing fingers at the sins of others and yet fail to live out a Christ like witness. There is a prudent balance needed to take action and live out a Christian witness. Born from Christ, and thus from love. This difficult love is communicated and related best through humility, but not to be mistaken for passivity.
May we all strive to live a life of virtue, proclaiming by our actions the love of God, recognizing that boldness for Christ stems from kneeling humbly at the foot of the Cross mindful of our unworthiness and imperfections.
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