Up Front and Personal

Don’t Be Afraid to Stand Up for Faith

By Brian Barnwell

I recently was a member of the New York State Legislature, where I represented around 130,000 people. I am also a practicing Catholic. Part of the reason I decided not to run for re-election after six years in office was the fact that remaining in the State Legislature prevented me from truly devoting myself to picking up my cross and following Christ. 

I wanted to write this to encourage you to remain in our faith in Jesus Christ. 

There is no doubt that the world we live in is extremely hostile to Christians, especially Catholics. 

We are constantly mocked for our faith, and ridiculed because we believe in Jesus and his teachings. 

Remember, though, that if the world hates you, never forget that it hated Christ first (John 15:18). 

If the world mistreats you because of your faith, and you keep the faith, you can rejoice that you suffered for him. 

Standing up for him and not backing down is a matter of your soul. The alternative is to disown Christ, like St. Peter originally did during the trial before his crucifixion. 

Remember the words of Christ: “Whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels” (Luke 9:26). 

This isn’t a time for delay. You must ask yourself: Do you believe that Jesus is the Son of God? If so, what are you waiting for to follow ALL of his teachings? 

If you believe he is the Son of God, why would you not put into practice everything he taught and told us? Why would you only believe some of the things, or only do some of the things he told us? 

If you believe in Jesus, but put off following him until “later,” you may wake up one day and it might be too late. 

We know tomorrow is not guaranteed. Why put it off? How will you explain this delay to Jesus? There is no excuse or acceptable reason. It is a matter of your soul. 

“Therefore, stay awake! For you do not know on which day your Lord will come. 

“Be sure of this: if the master of the house had known the hour of night when the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and not let his house be broken into. 

“So too, you also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come” (Matthew 24:42- 44). 

As we know, the world is extremely hostile to Christians/Catholics. Sadly, in our own city, let alone the world, there are many, including many elected officials, who despise the Church, and despise Christianity. 

Much of this is a misunderstanding of Christ’s teaching. 

It would be hard to despise a Christian who follows Jesus’ teaching on “love thy neighbor” and “treat others how you want to be treated,” but unfortunately many anti-Christian/Catholic individuals mistake disagreement with hatred. 

Although as Catholics, we also need to practice what we preach. We aren’t perfect by any means, but every time we do not put into practice the teachings of Jesus, we give an incorrect example of what Jesus’ teachings are to those who already hate us. 

Also, it is important to note that many are only OK with Christians/ Catholics if we do not live out our faith. They are OK if you do not adhere to the teachings of Christ, because they go against their behavior. 

If you dare disagree with any of the radical policies of today’s society, you are deemed to be acting in a discriminatory manner. While this isn’t true, it is what society says to deter you from being a follower of Jesus. They want validation for their radical policies from you, the Christian. If they bully you enough into silence, they feel they have won. 

You must not give in to their ways. Your soul is at stake. 

Fear that which can kill the body and soul, not merely the body (Matthew 10:28). Our ancestors faced persecution, torture, and death to be able to practice our faith. Many of our brothers and sisters still face these horrible realities. 

For most of the people who will read this, we do not face these horrible realities. We are faced with the politically correct culture and name calling; you cannot let that deter you from truly following Jesus. It is truly a matter of the life and death of your soul. 

Our Church started with one person. We are now billions of people. No single person has impacted the world more than Jesus. 

Do not be ashamed to follow Him. Do not put off putting those teachings into practice today, as tomorrow is not guaranteed. Rejoice with fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. I am always praying for you all. We must all give one another strength. 

Remember that the apostles/disciples witnessed firsthand everything Jesus did and taught. Most of them went to their deaths proclaiming Jesus and His resurrection. 

If the Resurrection never occurred, all of those apostles/disciples would have turned around and admitted they were lying. 

They had to give their lives for the truth, because the truth was the Resurrection. They witnessed it and had to preach it regardless of the consequences. 

I pray this letter gives you the courage to stand up for Christ, especially when you vote. 

You can vote your conscience; don’t let anybody tell you otherwise. 

Brian Barnwell represented parts of Queens in the New York State Assembly (District 30) from 2017-2022. He has attended Corpus Christi Parish in Woodside for most of his life and started his monthly sandwich-making for the needy there.