The most persecuted and discriminated against religious group today are Christians. Persecutions and martyrdom have always been an integral part of the Church’s history. And in her darkest hours, the Church has even had to suffer brother betraying brother to death, and a father his child, and children rising against parents and having them put to death. Christ knew that what befell him will also happen to his disciples because, while he preached a Gospel of love and peace, his Gospel went against the grain of what the world considered dear and important. “You will be hated by all because of my name.” he warned his disciples.
In one of his posts on Twitter, Pope Francis recently tweeted “The world tells us to seek success, power and money; God tells us to seek humility, service and love.” Many, specially the simple and ordinary Catholics, are cheering for the Pope. But he has also caused a lot of discomfort in high places. He has stepped on many toes by now, some of them very big ones. In fact, there are those who are now worried and afraid about his life.
The willingness and readiness to suffer and die for Christ has always been part of our Christian tradition. The persecutions started almost as soon as the Apostles received the Holy Spirit and began their preaching. St. Paul started his career as the number one persecutor of the early Christians. Tertullian, one of the very early Church Fathers, wrote “The blood of martyrs is the seed of the Church.”
I pray for all Christians suffering persecution and oppression today. I pray also that all men will learn to live in love and peace so that fear and pain will go away. I know that I will not see love and peace triumph in my lifetime. Neither will fear nor pain go away. But I will be blessed to know and meet people who live their lives in love and peace. And I will be blessed and help relieve some fear and pain where I can. Wolves and serpents may be abroad and seem to lord it over. But I will do my part to see to it that sheep and doves will survive and thrive.
‘See, I am sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Beware of them, for they will hand you over to councils and flog you in their synagogues; and you will be dragged before governors and kings because of me, as a testimony to them and the Gentiles.’