“Let us not forget: we are a pilgrim church, subject to misunderstanding, to persecution, but a church that walks serene, because it bears the force of love.” - Archbishop Oscar A. Romero - martyr
Brothers and sisters:
If God is for us, who can be against us?
He did not spare his own Son
but handed him over for us all,
how will he not also give us everything else along with him?
Who will bring a charge against God's chosen ones?
It is God who acquits us.
Who will condemn?
It is Christ Jesus who died, rather, was raised,
who also is at the right hand of God,
who indeed intercedes for us.
What will separate us from the love of Christ?
Will anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine,
or nakedness, or peril, or the sword?
As it is written:
For your sake we are being slain all the day;
we are looked upon as sheep to be slaughtered.
No, in all these things we conquer overwhelmingly
through him who loved us.
For I am convinced that neither death, nor life,
nor angels, nor principalities,
nor present things, nor future things,
nor powers, nor height, nor depth,
nor any other creature will be able to separate us
from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
St. Paul asks: "Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Trial, or distress, or persecution, or hunger, or nakedness, or danger, or the sword?" (Rm 8:35) This was no mere rhetorical question for Paul. He had experienced firsthand all of these dangers and more (see 2 Cor 11:23ff). He knew for "certain" that nothing could separate him from the love of God (Rm 8:38, 39). This certain knowledge of God's personal love for him gave Paul the courage to be more than a conqueror (Rm 8:37). No threat could deter Paul from carrying out his mission.
Just like Jesus, our lives as Catholics are not easy. While we are not living in a time or place where people may not want us physically dead, there is much adversity in our lives and cultures that makes being a Catholic difficult. Even in my experience, going to Catholic schools my whole life and coming from a predominately Catholic area, I have met many challenges to my faith. People who question, people who judge, people who see scandals, or mistakes, or simply don’t understand the fundamental tenants of my faith have all posed challenges.
We must never forget that we were baptized into Jesus, and like Paul, we have a mission from God. Pray to know God's love for you (Eph 3:18-19). This is where it all begins, a rock solid understanding that Jesus loves you, like no one ever has or ever will. Then "do not be afraid" (Mt 10:31). No threat can deter you from carrying out your God-given mission.
The goal is to live the mission, for people to see Jesus and to see what it means to be Catholic through me; through all of us.