Subtle IronyAugust 26th, 2013
My wife and I were visiting the East Coast last week where we heard a priest talking about the scriptures. He was discussing Christ’s statement, “I came not to bring peace but the sword,” and he was explaining that we need to read this passage in the context of the early church. To be a Christian in Ancient Rome bore severe consequences that divided you from both your family and the culture of the day.
He then went on to cite several historical examples. People of the day were required to practice worship only in the ways the state said was acceptable. If you did not think sacrifice to the emperor was appropriate, too bad. He said Christians were culturally removed because they would not partake in diversions and entertainment that included violence and the glorification of human suffering. This further isolated them. He said still worse, the negligent homicide of babies was seen as a perfectly acceptable form of family planning in Rome. Christian opposition to such practices would certainly lead to their being ostracized by the broader community.
He concluded his comments by mentioning how his heart went out to such people of past generations. What challenges they endured! How fortunate we are to live in a more enlightened and reasonable time! As he sat down, I glanced at my wife in confusion. Afterwards, I told her that might have been the subtlest homily I have ever heard. He had at least appeared to mean every word he had said. Such Irony.