I think it’s likely that the great leaders of the Church for the next decades are sitting out in the marketplace, out in the government, out in some obscure family, perhaps in some classroom, or maybe even in some jail. They may not be aware of Christ or certainly haven’t given their heart to him. I would guess if we knew who they were and the life they are leading, we may scoff or laugh at the very thought…. “are you serious …. that person is an enemy of Christ, they have done great damage to the Lord’s work, they despise Christians….”
Yet, as you read about the saints of the past, it seems that many of them were enemies of Christ, but then something happened. Some like St. Paul actively murdered Christians, some like St. Matthew simply stole from them and looked down on them …. some were thieves like St. Dismas, who later got a name change to the “good thief”. Many were simply men and women who lived for themselves with the 7 capital sins being their gods, willing to ignore the laws of God in order to gain “power, prestige, and possessions”….. all enemies of God…. some greater enemies, but none willing to raise a finger to serve the Lord.
And yet these “enemies” had tremendous potential. They has skills and leadership ability and intellect and courage and zeal often not found in the casual Christian. God had plans for them. Christ said, “ I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” (Luke 5:32)
As I look out over the world today and see many “enemies” of Christ with courage and strength and zeal and character… I think, “boy, what they could do if they gave their lives to the Lord. Remember Dr. Bernard Nathanson, co-founder of NARAL, a key force behind the legalization of abortion, performing some 5,000 abortions himself… yet when he was converted, he was a dynamo for good, a powerhouse for the unborn. How about Abby Johnson, former Planned Parent Director and now zealous for the unborn.
I see certain politicians who are fighting hard for issues opposed to God in every way…. yet they have a strength and conviction… they are formidable enemies. If they were converted they would be leaders in the church. “After this he went out, and saw a tax collector, named Levi, sitting at the tax office; and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he left everything, and rose and followed him.” (Luke 5:27-28)
We need some “tough cookies” in the battle against evil. Some of those cookies don’t know it yet, but they’re on the wrong side. They need to wake up. They need to be converted. “Conversion is the spark that allows a soul to catch fire with God. It strikes the flint and begins the early burning of a passion for God. It is the first leap of flame that can quickly become a fire lasting a lifetime.” (Fr. Donald Haggerty, Magnificat- 3-5-22)
Think of the early lives of Fr. Walter Ciszek, Louie Zamperini (“Unbroken”), Francis of Assisi, Thomas Becket, Augustine, Mary of Egypt, St. Pelagia, …no one would have bet on their sainthood in the early days of their life. Yet, God saw strength and potential…and he loved them.
So, pick out an “enemy of Christ” in our world today and pray for their conversion…for the spark that gets a fire going. They may be the next St. Paul or Mother Teresa. They may bring renewal to our poor nation and the world. And that would be very good news.