1st Sunday of Advent

1st Sunday of Advent

Fr. Joseph Levine; November 29, 2020
Readings: Is 63:16b-17,19b; 64:2-7; Ps 80:2-3,15-16,18-19; 1 Cor 1:3-9; Mk 13:33-37

The Gospel for today’s 1st Sunday of Advent contains one key word that is about as obvious as getting hit by a 2×4 smack in the face: Watch!

Now you cannot watch if you are not awake. In the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus asked his disciples to watch and pray, lest they enter into temptation, but they fell asleep. Later, at the moment of trial, when the soldiers came to arrest Jesus, the disciples fled away.

Well, it seems that in the world today a great many Catholics are asleep, but evil is wide awake and on the move.

Perhaps you have heard of the ‘Woke’. “Black Lives Matters” activists are ‘woke’ to the supposed ‘systemic racism’ that they claim defines the United States. The social justice warriors are very much like religious fanatics. They have a very simple creed: Life and language are determined by power relationships between oppressors (bad) and oppressed (good). The oppressed are racial minorities, women, sexual minorities, and religious minorities (so long as they are not traditional Christians). The oppressors are the opposite: white, male, heterosexual, and Christian. The whole system of oppression must be destroyed in order to reach the paradise of social equality. One of the key instruments of the revolution is language; language must be changed to change the way people think; that is the whole reason for politically correct language. Those who belong to an oppressor class can find redemption by confessing their guilt (e.g. ‘white guilt’) and dedicating themselves to the service of the cause of the oppressed. You cannot argue with them, because any attempt at argument just proves that you are either an oppressor or dupe of the oppressors.

The ‘woke’ social justice warriors, poor fellows, do not realize how they are being used and manipulated by the interests of the rich and the powerful, who want to break down and destroy every traditional order and institution, especially the Church and the family, so as to build a new humanity of bare, isolated individuals, easy to control. The ‘woke’ are tools in the hand of groups like the World Economic Forum and their plan for “The Great Reset”.

In the meantime, it seems that most Catholics are sound asleep, even when their children are becoming ‘woke’ to the new religion of ‘social justice’. This is not the so-called ‘social teaching of the Church’, which has practically been forgotten.

What does it mean to be asleep? You are asleep if you are willing to ‘go along to get along’. You are asleep if all you really want is financial security and a nice family life. You are asleep if you just want things to return to ‘normal’, so that you can get back to all your usual pleasant pursuits, whether it is going to restaurants, taking trips, going to basketball games, having parties and celebrations with friends and family.

Just as the woke ‘social justice warriors’ are being manipulated, so also those who ‘sleep’ and dream of ‘normality’, of ‘peace and security’ in their private lives, are being manipulated. Your desire for normality will manipulated by false promises (like ‘two weeks to flatten the curve’, or ‘if everyone would just wear their mask, we can beat this pandemic and will be able to return to normal in short order’, or ‘just as soon as we have a vaccine life can return to normal’), but the desire for normality will be frustrated in the end.

For many years now, people who have come to the United States after surviving the horrors of the totalitarian communist regimes of the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe have watched in horror as they see this country drifting towards totalitarianism, albeit a sort of ‘soft totalitarianism’.

What is totalitarianism? It is something more than dictatorship. A dictator is content with political control. As for totalitarianism, Rod Dreher defines it as “a state in which nothing can be permitted to exist that contradicts a society’s ruling ideology.” (Rod Dreher, “Live Not by Lies”, pg. 30) It can be ‘soft’ in two ways: people are contented with the state of affairs because they are able to enjoy an abundance of material goods and sexual pleasure; or because they have become so conditioned by social media, driven by artificial intelligence, that their very capacity to think apart from the ruling ideology no longer exists, therefore harsh repressive measures of control are not needed.

North Korea is a harsh totalitarianism. Communist China, while it always has brutal repressive measures ready and hand and will still use them (as against the Uighurs) has in many ways become a soft totalitarianism, providing its people with an abundance of material goods and controlling them through ‘social credit’ and massive surveillance.

Every totalitarian system is built upon a vast network of lies.

The pandemic regime under which we are now living is itself a vast network of lies. (For facts about Covid see https://swprs.org/facts-about-covid-19/?fbclid=IwAR2W8TWtsjxl83CYPbc-2wfFCLDPA7AnU3y-anqxZavJj6I7DX-xiC3EyOk) Don’t get me wrong: Covid-19 is a real virus that gets some people sick, from which some people die, and which has serious long term effects in some survivors. Right now the number of cases here in Wasco County has started to increase somewhat dramatically. I know of a number of people who recently have either tested positive or have been quarantined because of ‘close contact’. Of course, I would not have such awareness of people having the flu.

So Covid-19 is real, but the truth of the matter is hard to get at because we have been told so many lies and been subject to a regime of lies.

One of the most insidious characteristics of this deception is that it is hard to oppose the regime of lies without appearing unconcerned about human life. If you dispute the official story or break the ‘rules’ you quickly meet with the challenge: “Do you want people to die?”

Much of the deception is a matter of proportion. We are fed daily doses of high case numbers, but we really do not know what those numbers mean since the vast majority of cases are not at all serious. We have nothing to compare those numbers with if only because we have never given this much attention to any other infectious disease.

Still, there is one official ‘story’ about the meaning of those numbers and dissenting voices, even from persons with outstanding scientific qualifications are dismissed. In any case, the death rates really are not that high, except in nursing homes, and the fatalities are overwhelming found in the elderly and those suffering from underlying conditions.

Let’s compare the numbers with a real pandemic, the Spanish flu of 1918-1920. The estimates of the number infected worldwide are about 500 million or about ¼ of the world population at the time. Estimates of deaths run anywhere from 17 million to 100 million worldwide. Suppose we triple the present numbers of Covid to get some idea of what the final numbers will be: that would give us maybe 180 million cases worldwide out of a population of 7.8 billion. That is only 2.3% of the world population. Next, we might end up with some 4.5 million deaths worldwide. Do remember when they warned of 2.2 million deaths in the United States alone? As for the United States, suppose the number of deaths triples over the next 8 months so that we end up with ¾ million dead. Yes, that is a lot, but it is comparable to the typical leading causes of death, abortion, heart disease, and cancer.

First of all, it should be clear by now that the virus is neither as deadly, nor as contagious as we were first led to believe. That should be clear, but we are still being subject to a regime based on the supposition that this is a horrific, highly contagious, deadly virus, to which no one had any immunity as all, because it was completely new.

The lack of immunity to the virus was another lie. One of the little tidbits buried in the mountain of public disinformation that we have been fed has been that those who have experienced the common cold coronaviruses have actually had their immune system fortified against this new coronavirus. Of course, one of the things that has been completely lacking in the pandemic response has been any guidance as to building up and fortifying the immune system.

The regime, however, is profoundly inhuman and dehumanizing, treating the vast majority of the healthy as though they were sick. It is inhuman to isolate the elderly, cutting them off from visits by their children and family. Social distancing and other practices that cut people off from one another are inhuman. The ubiquitous masking is also inhuman. Faces, the light and glory of the human body, are meant to be seen.

Indeed, at this point, it should be clear that the pandemic regime has not been about saving lives, but about controlling lives – and about politics.

A sane regime would at least have adapted to focusing on protecting those who are truly vulnerable and would have provided sound guidance as to how to do so. Instead, we have been terrorized by the threat of imminent risk at all times. The regime at this point actually keeps us from understanding what truly helpful measure might be.

We have been told: if you don’t wear a facemask, someone might die! That is a bit of an exaggeration to say the least. In the end, if someone does happen to die because you did not obey the ‘rules’ the fault is not yours, but in the stupidity of the rules and the incompetence or malice of those who imposed them in the first place.

Sickness and death are part of life. Health, even public health, is not the supreme good.

We need to start dealing with Covid like we do with any other disease and stop putting life on ‘pause’ or a ‘freeze’. We need to be willing to take risks with Covid, just like we take a risk every time we drive a car. Life is dangerous. There are things worth taking risks for, things worth suffering for, things worth dying for.

As I said, the actual pandemic regime, the pandemic politics, is not about public health, but about control.

The World Economic Forum which holds its annual meeting every January in Davos, Switzerland, is no minor actor on the world stage. The theme for this next January is “The Great Reset”.

I quote from a June 3 article on their website: “The COVID-19 crisis is affecting every facet of people’s lives in every corner of the world. But tragedy need not be its only legacy. On the contrary, the pandemic represents a rare but narrow window of opportunity to reflect, reimagine, and reset our world to create a healthier, more equitable, and more prosperous future.” (https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/06/now-is-the-time-for-a-great-reset/) The pandemic reflects a ‘narrow window of opportunity’; to that we could add the subtext “And we plan to make use of it to advance our own agenda.”

What is that agenda? The refashioning of the whole world: “To achieve a better outcome, the world must act jointly and swiftly to revamp all aspects of our societies and economies, from education to social contracts and working conditions. Every country, from the United States to China, must participate, and every industry, from oil and gas to tech, must be transformed. In short, we need a ‘Great Reset’ of capitalism.” (Ibid.)

It sounds like massive social control, like we are now experiencing, will be needed to achieve that ambitious agenda.

On July 13, 2020 there appeared on the same website an article titled: “To Build Back Better we must reinvent capitalism. Here’s how.” (https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/07/to-build-back-better-we-must-reinvent-capitalism-heres-how/) It reads like a promotional for the Green New Deal. “Build Back Better” has become a characteristic catch phrase for the ‘Great Reset’. Justin Trudeau, the Prime Minister of Canada, uses it. Joseph Biden uses it. Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister of the UK uses it. If you start paying attention, powerful people everywhere are using it.

Many international organizations are on board with the ‘Great Reset’: The United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, World Bank, Greenpeace International, and the International Trade Union Confederation.

Watch out! One thing missing in all of this is God. I would dare say that the plan is to build a new world order, without God.

Now we can feel pretty powerless in face of the powers of this world and their regime of lies that are arrayed against us.

We can learn from those who endured the totalitarian regimes of communism. One of them was the Czech dissident Václav Havel, who was the first President of free Czechoslovakia and then of the Czech Republic. In 1978, while still living under the Communist regime he wrote a famous essay “The Power of the Powerless”. At the center of the essay is the fictional story of a greengrocer who one day steps out of line by taking down the “Workers of the World Unite” poster from his shop window. The communist slogan, “Workers of the World Unite”, like the slogan “Black Lives Matter”, is of itself an unobjectionable phrase, but not in what it stands for precisely as a slogan professing support of the whole communist agenda.

The small, seemingly insignificant shopkeeper paid a steep price in suffering his bold move, but he acted in the truth. Havel wrote: “By breaking the rules of the game, he disrupted the game as such. He has exposed it as a mere game. He has shattered the world of appearances, the fundamental pillar of the system … He has said the emperor is naked. And because the emperor is in fact naked, something extremely dangerous has happened: by his action, the greengrocer has addressed the world … He has shown everyone that it is possible to live within the truth. Living within the lie can constitute the system only if it is universal … There are no terms whatsoever on which it can co-exist with living within the truth, and therefore everyone who steps out of line denies it in principle and threatens it in its entirety.” (“The Power of the Powerless”)

Rod Dreher comments on this saying: “It is up to us today to take up this challenge, to live not by lies and to speak the truth that defeats evil. How do we do this in a society built on lies? By accepting life outside the mainstream, courageously defending the truth, and being willing to endure the consequences. These challenges are daunting, but we are blessed with examples of saints who’ve gone before.” (“Live Not by Lies”, pg. 100)

Returning to today’s Gospel, to watch, we must first be awake. That means we can no longer be content to pursue our private life in our private cocoon, going along to get along, wishing the larger world would otherwise go away and leave us alone. We must recognize what is going on around us; we must open our eyes to the regime of lies in which we live. We must learn to live in the truth.

Václav Havel was not a religious man, but the expression ‘living within the truth’ is very close to the words of St. John, who writes about walking in the truth. (cf. 2 Jn 1:4; 3 Jn 1:3)

We receive the truth through faith in Jesus Christ, the way, the truth, and the life. (Jn 14:6) To live in the truth, we must hold fast to our Creed, see and judge the world in the light of what we believe, and think, act, and speak in conformity with what we believe. We must hold fast to the truth of the Holy Trinity, the Cross of Christ, the Holy Eucharist, and the promise of eternal life.

We must refuse the lie of the Great Reset, the lie of BLM, the lie of the rainbow, and the lie of the mask regime. To live in the truth requires building areas of mutual vulnerability in which we can speak face to face. (cf. 2 Jn 2:12, 3 Jn 3:14)

We have something that Václav Havel did not have, the strength that comes through prayer. We must truly heed the words of our Lord: Watch and pray, so that you do not enter into temptation. (Mt 26:41) We must take to heart the exhortation of Our Lady of Fatima to pray the rosary daily, meditating on the mysteries. Then we will not only have the power of the powerless, but the power of the Cross of Jesus Christ.

For those who lived during the Cold War and those who lived beneath the communist regimes behind the Iron Curtain, especially the dissidents who sought to resist the regime, living in the truth, it seemed that those regimes were a permanent reality. Nevertheless, in a short space of time, from 1989-1991, the whole imposing edifice collapsed. That is the reality of the underlying frailty of totalitarianism in face of the truth.

It is also the biblical promise. In the book of Revelation, not only the final empire of the Antichrist, but every historical ‘evil empire’, is symbolized by Babylon. The 18th and 19th chapters of the Book of Revelation proclaim the fall of Babylon, the victory of Christ, and the arrival of the wedding feast of the Lamb – which is always anticipated in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. The fall of Babylon is swift and sudden: In one hour she has been ruined. (Rev 18:17) Then the chorus of ‘Alleluias’ echoes from heaven: Alleluia! For the Lord our God, the Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and exult and given him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready. (Rev 19:6-7)

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Fr. Joseph Levine graduated from Thomas Aquinas College and after a long journey was ordained to the priesthood for the Diocese of Baker, Oregon. He currently serves as pastor of St. Peter Catholic Church in The Dalles on the Columbia River.