Today is the feast of St. Stephen, the first Christian martyr. He was stoned to death by a mob led by a young man named Saul. Today I pause to think about and pray for all those who are being persecuted because of their faith.
I pray for Christians in Muslim lands who are being tortured, driven our of their homes, subjected to humiliations and often brutally murdered. May the Lord heal and take away the fear, the anger, the hatred and the bitterness in the hearts of their persecutors. For every ounce of fear, may the Lord give them a pound of courage. For every ounce of anger, may they be given a pound of forgiveness. For every ounce of hatred, may they be blessed with a pound of love. And for every drop of bitterness, may they find buckets full of joy.
I pray also for those in our society who are subject to ridicule and ostracism because of their Christian faith and beliefs. They often are not able to express in words and precise language what it is they believe in. But they know in their hearts what truth and real love is. And they live this out in their simple and ordinary love. May they also be blessed with courage and strength to persevere and remain in their faith.