This Wednesday, September 30th, is the first annual “International Blasphemy Day” (caution: the link contains pictures of a blasphemous, albeit childish, nature). Atheists, skeptics and other religion-haters are supposed to utter offensive attacks on religious beliefs on Wednesday. I haven’t quite figured out the point, to be honest.
In many Muslim countries, the response to blasphemy is death. But what should be the Christian response to blasphemy? Get angry, fight back, be offended? As I look at the life of our Lord as well as the lives of the saints, I can think of one word: reparation. When the religious and political authorities 2,000 years ago did the most blasphemous thing possible – mock and beat and kill the Son of God – what was our Lord’s response? He turned their attacks into something to save them. He suffered for the sake of others’ salvation. The saints did the same thing. Time and time again they would offer up their own suffering, whether it was inflicted on them or freely chosen by them, for the sins of others.
One of the beautiful aspects of the Catholic Faith is that we understand that mankind will be saved as a Body. We are not just individual units which only have a direct relation to God without any connection to our fellow man. Instead we are connected to every other person on this earth, and we are called to do things to help in their salvation. One of the best ways to help others is to offer our sufferings for them. As St. Paul writes,
Now I rejoice in what was suffered for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church. (Col. 1:24 – emphasis added)
We are called to make reparation for our own sins as well as the sins of others. I would suggest that this Wednesday we offer our sufferings – however big or little they are – for those who participate in International Blasphemy Day. Let’s make it instead “International Reparation Day,” and pray that those who blaspheme our Lord on Wednesday will one day join us in glorifying Him in heaven.