As the more than 12,000 youth and 18,000 adults walk into the Anaheim Convention Center for the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress each year, they must pass a man shouting in protest of the Catholic Church. He scolds those who pass by with insults so shocking that I often ask myself how it is even legal for him to be there.
A colleague pointed out on the way in that it was probably a good thing for the many teens to hear him. It encourages them to come up a good defense for their beliefs and solidify their desire to be there. Engaging with him in shouting is never a productive experience, but recognizing that there are people out there that oppose them is a good reminder to have before entering into the Catholic bubble.
I hadn’t thought of it this way, but it makes a lot of sense.
Surrounded by so many thousands of like-minded individuals, to know that outside there is opposition only solidifies our beliefs.
Jesus spoke a lot about persecution in the Gospels. He was rejected for what he said and did and warned his disciples that they would suffer the same fate.
Likewise, we face rejection today from so many different directions.
If we don’t, then it may be that we are watering down the faith and hiding in the comfort of sheltered Christian communities.