The Catholic Defender: The Mountain Movers
Jesus said to His Apostles, "I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” Matthew 17:20
The Catholic Church is challenged day in and day out and sometimes on the basis of Scripture like the about quotation of Jesus. In about 975 AD a leader of the Christian Community, Abraham was debating a Jewish man named Yaqub ibn Killis also called Moses, was challenging the Catholic faith. ibn Killis had not been successful debating with Abraham and plotted to trip Abraham up on a biblical saying of Jesus. A challenge was made by ibn Killis to Abraham to prove the Catholic faith by moving a mountain based on Matthew 17:20.
A Caliph ( chief Muslim civil and religious ruler) hearing this challenged also joined ibn Killis in making this challenge. But the Caliph put more teeth into the challenge threatening the Christians with death by the sword if Abraham were not successful. Abraham then asked for three day to complete such a miracle.
Abraham assembled the Religions prayer warriors, monks, priests, bishops available and placed them in a church for three days calling for a special penance. On the morning of the third day, Abraham saw a vision of the Blessed Virgin Mary telling him to go into the plaza to meet a one-eyed man carrying a jar of water on his shoulder. The man who Abraham found was Simon the tanner, who was this Simon the tanner? I found one in the book of Acts 10:31-32. Could he have been one from Heaven that was sent by Our Lady? You decide!
Simon instructed Abraham to lead his religious leaders to the mountain dictated by the Caliph and his Soldiers. Then Simon instructed Abraham to cry out "O Lord, have mercy" three times and each time make the sign of the cross over the mountain. At that moment a great sign appeared that the Mountain was moved to such a degree that the Caliph and all his men knelt down recognizing that the faith of Abraham was the true faith. Abraham then looked left and then right looking for Simon the tanner who had disappeared.
In the Bible we have seen such grace with Elijah and the Prophets of Baal, also with St. Anthony against Heretics, God is not afraid of a challenge, but in order to join in such a challenge, you better know for sure He has your back! William Miller, a Baptist Minister, in 1844 thought he had a lock on the return of Christ and sold his idea to 50,000 followers who dressed in white robes who sold everything climbing up Mount Kellogg where today they make Corn Flakes. At the end of the day everyone went back down that mountain and this was remembered as the great day of disappointment. The Seventh Day Adventist would be born out of that error! Only division results when man tries to move a mountain that the Lord does not bless.
While stationed in Germany (October 86 - October 89) I had many debates with those who sought to unravel the foundation of the Catholic Faith. A number of them want to try to knock St. Peter out from the foundation of the Catholic Faith. Some will make the argument that the Catholic Church persecuted the early Christians. Upon losing these points they would employ their special technique known as the "scatter-gun Technique". They would rattle off a whole bunch of issues so that you can't take time for all of them. They can't hang on an issue for very long.
One time while we were deployed at Hohenfels Germany at the Training Area, one of those seeking to debate me gave my troops some Anti-Catholic materials. My guys promptly gave all that to me which the issues ranged from infant baptism to Church authority.
One particular day, it was a raining day, something I will always remember about Hohenfels. It seems to always be gray, it seemed it was always wet all year round. Every time we trained there it was always the same. This day I had a problem with one of our M113 tracks which I had to tow from the field to the rear to have maintenance work on it. While there, I went to take a shower when I happened to have ran into the guy passing out Anti-Catholic booklets and Jack Chick tracks.
What ensued was a continuous debate where he would raise a preconceived point and I would smash it with biblical background and history. Over and over this went on. We left the shower and went to a location where we could talk.
This debate is an example of a mountain that we will endure. St. Paul had this statement:
"And if I have the gift of prophecy and comprehend all mysteries and all knowledge; if I have all faith so as to move mountains but do not have love, I am nothing." 1 Corinthians 13:2
In this debate which was a continuous back and forth challenge, I had to have love for this young challenger who was intending to become a Baptist Minister. At least until this particular day. We actually had a number of planned opportunities to meet but these times became less apprehensive and more cordial.
It wasn't until we returned to Schweinfurt where we were based, a drastic change began to take place in my challenging friend. The more he thought and prayed over our debates, he began to embrace Catholicism just like Justin the Martyr of the first/second century who defended the Mass with a Jew in his time. I've always said that a Catholic who is informed would not loose such a debate, not because we are all that great in debating, but because we have all the high cards. We have the Aces, Kings, Queens, Jacks, and we will never lose. Sometimes they might put up a good bluff, but a couple of three's will not beat a couple of Jacks.
As Mountain Movers, St. Paul identifies nearly 100 co-workers in the New Testament. We are also co-workers today when we are defending the Catholic faith, moving mountains encouraging faith.
Was my challenging friend a "mountain" that had to be lifted up and thrown into the sea? Was his Conversion a sign of erased doubt? All of Jesus teaching had one basic intent, that is to bring in the lost and forsaken. The Great Commission Jesus instructs His Church:
"The eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had ordered them. When they saw him, they worshiped, but they doubted. Then Jesus approached and said to them, “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.* And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”