What is the Church? According to the Encyclopedia of the Catholic Church, “The whole body of the faithful including not merely the members of the Church who are alive on earth but those, too, whether in heaven or in purgatory, who form part of the one communion of saints. Considered thus, the Church is divided into the Church Militant, the Church Suffering, and the Church Triumphant.” Why is the Church here on earth called the Church Militant? Shouldn’t we know why the part of the Church you and I belong in would be called militant? Militant as in Military. Military as in fight, war, battles, life and death. A war on the flesh, the world, and the Satan, which are what St. Thomas affirms to be the three attacks on Mankind.P3Q41 If you were unaware that you were in an army, please realize now that you are called to live the life of a soldier under the command of Christ the conqueror.
I hope and pray you choose God’s side. If you join with the Devil, the world and the flesh, you are joining the losing side. The Devil has already lost the eternal fight. He is cast into Hell for eternity. For all that he promises you on this temporal earth, all that he can actually grant you in the infinitely longer and more important life of Eternity, is companionship with him in Hell, being tortured forever. Brother Juniper, an early Franciscan said, “Oh, my brethren, who is there in this world so noble that he would disdain to carry a basket of mud all the world over, in the hope of obtaining a house full of gold? Alas, why will we not endure a little shame to obtain life eternal?” In a similar way, we can say, “Who in this world is so foolish, that he would enjoy certain pleasures of earth for a little while, and ignore eternal riches of Heaven?” Why are men still attracted? Because Satan is the Father of Lies, and has been seducing mankind for thousands of years. Men are weak and short sighted, from the effects of Original Sin. They were given the ability to understand, to learn. They were given an eternal soul, and they squander it all. They ignore all of God’s revelations, only to act like animals, always looking for what pleases them at that moment, and never looking for higher goods. There is no reason to submit to our evil inclinations.
Here are two kinds of men. One that fights for a good cause, and then abandons his post at the first sign of opposition; another who encamps with the enemy, but in the face of opposition, enlists with Christ for his eternal reward. This event among the early Christians in Rome captures this idea very well. During the persecution of Licinius, a band of forty soldiers remained steadfast in their faith, and were sentenced to death. That night, they were cast naked onto a frozen lake, to die of exposure. On top of the torture, tubs of hot water were prepared for them to warm themselves in, if they denied their faith. One of the forty, denying his faith, and his commander, who had suffered for him, got up from the ice and, too eager to experience the pleasure offered to him, cast his frozen body into the heated water. He was scalded to death. This apostate gave Christ up, only to die as Christ’s enemy. 39 soldiers remained on the ice. One of the guards who were overseeing the torture, admiring the Christian’s fortitude, thought he saw a supernatural glow arising from the brave, steadfast company of Christ. He, casting off his armor and tearing off from himself the uniform of the Devil, he threw himself in their lot. He, proclaiming himself Christian, went naked onto the frozen lake, to die for Christ, completing the number of 40 in their company, in place of the one who had succumbed. The next morning their cold, stiff bodies still showed signs of life. Their persecutors burned their bodies, but their souls rose to heaven to join the victorious Christ eternally in heaven. For a night of suffering they received an eternity of happiness. Those were Christian Soldiers.
That really happened. Thousands of people have suffered, and are suffering for their faith. What are you willing to suffer for? Let’s not skip to “suffer” just yet. Face it, most of us haven’t encountered much real suffering. How about we focus on, “what are you willing to DO”? If you’re really a soldier, don’t soldiers obey orders? The most important thing you can do right now as a Christian, is to fulfill all your duties faithfully and well. Never let yourself be idle. Do all for the glory of God. “He that is faithful in that which is least, is faithful also in that which is greater: and he that is unjust in that which is little, is unjust also in that which is greater.” Luke 16:10 If you can’t even live daily life well, how are you a Christian? If you can’t fill your little responsibility, how are you Christ’s soldier? If you think you can do more, then let Christ see your good example and good work now, so that he can promote you. First do your work now, so that you will prove to God now, that you are his man. Later, He may call you to something higher, but not before you have proved your worth to him. “He that taketh not up his cross, and followeth me, is not worthy of me.”Matthew 10:38 You can prove your worth to Christ by following Him, and doing what you have to do now. At every moment, you have two choices to make. Every second of the day remind yourself, “I can either do GOOD or EVIL right now.” Being able to choose the right and reject the wrong is what being a Christian means. Christ demands of you to choose the right! Don’t live to please yourself, live for God, He is the only one who can reward you. Are you worthy to be a soldier of Christ?
Jesus says, “He that is not with me, is against me; and he that gathereth not with me, scattereth.”Luke 11:23 I said earlier that you were called. I will rephrase that: you have an all-important choice to make. A choice to join Christ and His Saints, or join the force against God and His goodness. There is no middle ground. To what lukewarm souls there are, to those who fight weakly and halfheartedly on one side or the other, this is what God has to say: “I know thy works, that thou art neither cold, nor hot. I would thou wert cold, or hot. But because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold, nor hot, I will begin to vomit thee out of my mouth.”Apocalypse 3:15-16 You either work for God or the devil. Christ told you what to do. He has commanded, are we obeying? This isn’t just a calling. It’s not someone in the distance saying, “come on, please join me”. This call is the call of a Commander in the middle of a war, a war in which neutral territory is not tolerated. This is an, “If any man be on the Lord’s side let him join with me!”Exodus 32:26 This is a call of, “Follow me: for the Lord hath delivered our enemies into our hands!”Judges 3:28 A call of, “Be subject therefore to God, but resist the devil, and he will fly from you!”James 4-7 This is a call to immediate warfare against the Devil, the enemy of souls! You are either with him or against him.