Wednesday, August 23, 2017


A true story is told about Joseph Stalin, the communist leader of the Soviet Union, who was responsible for the deaths of millions of his own citizens. As a youth, Stalin had attended seminary in Tbilisi in Georgia, planning to become a priest. But later he rejected Christianity and became an atheist. One of his schoolmates at seminary went on to become a bishop. Many years later, after Stalin had become Premier, the bishop asked for and received an invitation to visit the Soviet leader. The bishop agonized over what to wear. Should he wear his bishop’s attire and risk offending Stalin? Or should he just play it safe and wear a conservative business suit? He decided to play it safe. When the bishop entered Stalin’s office, this detail did not go unnoticed. Instead of a greeting, Stalin pointed his index finger first at himself and then at the ceiling, toward heaven, and said, “You’re afraid of me, but not of Him?”

That bishop should have imitated St. Paul who declared to the Thessalonians, “We are not trying to please men but God, who tests our hearts” (I Thess. 2:4). Then his courage would have impressed even an atheist like Stalin.


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