The great Christian revolution has been to convert pain into fruitful suffering and to turn a bad thing into something good. We have deprived the devil of this weapon; and with it we conquer eternity. - St. Jose Maria Escriva: (1902 – 1975: founded Opus Dei, an organization of laypeople and priests dedicated to the teaching that everyone is called to holiness and that ordinary life is a path to sanctity)
Gospel Text: (JN 15:18-21)
Jesus said to his disciples:
“If the world hates you, realize that it hated me first.
If you belonged to the world, the world would love its own;
but because you do not belong to the world,
and I have chosen you out of the world,
the world hates you.
Remember the word I spoke to you,
‘No slave is greater than his master.’
If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you.
If they kept my word, they will also keep yours.
And they will do all these things to you on account of my name,
because they do not know the one who sent me.”
There is no doubt; we are living in an age of growing persecution against Christians. Cardinal Dolan of New York recently addressed the Conference of US Bishops gathered in assembly. Cardinal Dolan told his brother bishops: We are living in what must be recognized as, in the words of Blessed John Paul II, "a new age of martyrs." One expert calculates that half of all Christian martyrs were killed in the twentieth century alone. The twenty-first century has already seen one million people killed around the world because of their belief in Jesus Christ - - one million already in this young century.
And the threat to religious believers is growing. The Pew Research Center reports that 75 percent of the world's population "lives in countries where governments, social groups, or individuals restrict people's ability to freely practice their faith." Pew lays out the details of this "rising tide of restrictions on religion," but we don't need a report to tell us something we sadly see on the news every day.
In our own lives, we will suffer, we will be misunderstood, betrayed by friends, shipwrecked (at least figuratively), and we will experience the instability that often accompanies the struggles of daily life. St Paul and many of the saints that have gone before us show us how to choose the better way, the way of discipleship. When we learn to make that choice we will find the path to contentment and the way of true freedom.