Today’s First Reading may seem like a drastic shift in Paul’s thought, since until now he’s been speaking of married life and family, but this shift of emphasis underscores something many believers have forgotten: that while we live on this earth we are waging spiritual warfare. We can lament hunger, armed conflict, and violent persecution afflicting the world, but all these sad events have a spiritual foundation: sin. There is an active evil presence in the world, beyond the human, that seeks to separate us from God and leave us in misery forever out of spite for the paradise he lost for himself and the fallen angels in league with him.
We’re only left vulnerable and exposed to evil if we don’t fight with the weapons provided by Our Lord. Our salvation, our victory (the helmet) is assured if we keep fighting, if we live a sacramental and prayer life that help us to maintain and grow in sanctifying grace (a breastplate of righteousness), if we are alert in avoiding occasions of sin and seizing opportunities to practice virtue (feet shod in readiness), and if we not only keep on the defensive, but go on the offensive wielding Scripture, Tradition, and our faith (the sword and shield ). Sometimes we may feel like we’re bringing a knife to a gunfight, but our secret weapon is that our arms are powered by God, whom nothing can withstand.
Are you on the battlefield or parked on the couch spiritually? Defense or offense? It’s never too late in this life to take up arms and defend yourself and those you love. Christ has won the war, but we must battle to ensure a share of his victory.
Readings: Ephesians 6:10–20; Psalm 144:1b, 2, 9–10; Luke 13:31–35. See also 30th Week in Ordinary Time, Thursday.