Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Catholic Defender: The Father in heaven and earth

I reported to my first duty assignment in the spring of 1985. I was attached with the 1st Support Unit, 24th Mechanized Infantry.

I was in a medical company which supported other units in the field.

My first night there, my roommate took me around the post to show me where the gym was and other places to go.

While standing on a sidewalk next to the gym, a group of black guys walked towards us yelling obscenities at us. I did not pay them much attention as they called us “white trash” and “honkies”. One of them hit me in the mouth as they taunted us.

It totally surprised me. He knocked my hat right off my head. I had a bloody lip but kept my cool. They taunted and threatened us some more. They laughed at me because I had a bloody lip. It became a tense moment. They challenged my roommate wanting to fight him.

They used vulgar and vile language at us. As the night went on, other people began to gather and wanted us to win the fight. There was a crowd that gathered who recognized these individuals as trouble makers.

When it was all said and done, I walked through the crowd and went up to the one who punched me in the mouth and told him, “I forgive you in the name of Jesus Christ” and reached out to shake his hand. With the crowd looking on he shook my hand and I left the scene.

There would be many times that the Lord would place me in situations where he would have to be with me in times of hardship.

On 10 April 1986, a terrible training accident happened late at night when a Black Hawk helicopter collided with a Chinook over the swamps of Fort Stewart Georgia.

It was not far from the on post housing complex where we lived. The wreckage was spread out over a fairly large area in the woods. JP 4 fuel had leaked out all over the place. You could have lit a match and the whole place would have blown up.

Just wading the swamp my boots had to be thrown away, my BDU bottoms had to be thrown away, and I had sores on my legs that lasted for months. As Medics, I was among the first on the scene in retrieving the bodies of those who had lost their lives in this tragic accident.

We had to carry them at least 100 yards out of that swamp to where we could take them to the ambulances. As we carried them, all I could do was pray for them. I was praying the 'Rosary'' and the rosary for them as we carried them. There were 8 of them who died in this accident. May the Lord shine his perpetual light upon them and may they rest in his peace.

A continuation of this story takes place while I was in Iraq during OIF 06-08 deployment. Another friend of mine, Steve Ray, a Catholic Apologist, convert to the Catholic Faith, asked me to send him a story of my conversion (reversion) to the Catholic Faith.

The Diocese of New Orleans had encouraged me to write an autobiography so I have the rough draft of this story on Steve's web-site, "Defenders of the Catholic Faith". One day, Steve's message board sent out flags trying to get my attention on the board.

A gentleman was reading through Steve's conversion stories and found my story. Now, my story is more than 200 pages and when he reached page 80 he read this story about the helicopter crash. Upon reading this he reached Steve Ray wanting to get a hold of me.

He relayed the story that his Brother was one of the Soldiers who had died that day. Even though it was more than 20 years after the incident, it meant something to him to know that someone was praying for his brother at the scene of the accident.

That was very humbling to me that this meant that much to someone. I guess it would be like reading from a magazine to find an article that spoke about a loved one. My faith has always been very important to me. I have been challenged many times in 25 years of Military service and I have been graced to have played a part with many conversions.

Going back to Germany, 1987, I was given a lateral promotion to Corporal. I was now an NCO with my first squad. After nearly two years in two different units, I was finally leader of the Track Pack! I was someone that my Commands loved when it came to going to the field. I could set up and tear down a GP small or medium and help set up a defensive position.

Camouflage was always a challenge, but we always set up well after arriving to new sites. Those all night operations were always a challenge. When we were set up, the war games were always fun. We would always look to steal the guide arm (flag) from the opposing units.

I remember staying up 72 hours straight because I was having so much fun capturing opposing Soldiers. I particularly loved tying young officers to trees or dunking them in the creek! One thing about being in the field, people were more than willing to be philosophers.

I was able to witness the Faith daily with those we met. It was great and I'll always cherish those times. I received a new Soldier in my squad who would become very important to me. He was drawn to me because of my apparent love for God. He was confused because I was Catholic. He thought that this situation was a contradiction. One night he and a friend of his came to visit me. They wanted to challenge me with this question?

"What about the contradiction that you call your leaders 'Father' and the fact that the bible states in Matthew 23:9 'and call no man your Father upon the earth; for one is your Father, which is in heaven'. Surly you can not defend this command of the Lord, can you?"

I responded, "Yes I can"! As it was in much of the bible, you must look into the context in which Jesus stated this. This is why Jesus left an authority as a teaching Church, to handle these kinds of questions. 2 Peter 1:20 states, "Know this first of all, that there is no prophecy of Scripture that is a matter of personal interpretation for no prophecy ever came through human will; but rather human beings moved by the Holy Spirit under the influence of God".

If the Apostles would have taken Matthew23:9 literally, you would see by their example and teaching an obedience to that fact. However, when St. Paul writes to the Corinthians (1 Cor 4:15) he describes himself as a "Father" to his followers. St. Stephen referred to those who persecuted him as his brothers and Father's "(Acts 7:2). St. John refers "Fathers" as those knowing Jesus from the beginning, the leadership (1 John 2:14).

St. Paul writes about "Fathers" as heads of households. I love this picture of the Prodigal Son. The image of the Father is really God the Father receiving all of us home!

St Paul writes, "For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named".

Jesus referred to Abraham as "Father" Abraham. Abraham's original name means "Father", Abraham means "Father" of many nations.

The question you might want to ask is , "What did Jesus mean with Matthew 23:9"?

What Jesus was addressing here was the hypocrisy of the Pharisees. Jesus at this time really lowers the boom on the Pharisees calling them hypocrites, blind guides, blind fools, and whitewashed tombs.

They did acts in public for all to see, wore titles of honor to demonstrate how important they were.

In comparison to God in heaven by contrast, this would be an insult. Jesus saw them as hollow shells without substance.

What I find interesting is why you do not apply the same standard to Matthew 23:8? which states, "Do not be called rabbi (teacher), and verse 10 says, "Do not be called Master." 

If you try to justify calling any of your leaders anything that refers to "teacher", you have broken your standard.

The problem is that your standard was not the ruler or gauge the Lord used. This is the problem with "Sola Scriptura" because things get taken out of context. My Soldier would be received into the Catholic Church before the end of the year! Praise the Lord!

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