“They will seize and persecute you,
they will hand you over to the synagogues and to prisons,
and they will have you led before kings and governors
because of my name…
You will even be handed over by parents,
brothers, relatives, and friends,
and they will put some of you to death.” – Words taken from the book of St. Luke.
Reflecting from today’s gospel, our Lord Jesus Christ isn’t promising an easy life for those who would choose to follow Him. He tells us that opting to become a Christian is not opting a comfortable life, but rather a life that is full of challenges and persecutions as we are being called to face our own trials and carry our own crosses. He is also frank enough to say that some of us will be put to death because of His name. But will this persecution deter us from following our Lord?
Throughout the Church’s history, countless numbers of men and women were killed and persecuted because of their faith to our Lord. Missionaries and even lay people became martyrs in their efforts to spread the good news of salvation brought to mankind by Jesus Christ. And while many of our brethren in various parts of the world were persecuted up to the present time, those who professed their hatred to the cross were not able to extinguish the fire of our faith. As a matter of fact, in places wherein persecutions take place, the number of Christian converts were rising. Take for example in Africa where the Church is currently thriving. True to the words of Tertulian in his Apologeticum written in 197 A.D., “the more we are mown down (or persecuted), the more we grow in number” – for the blood of the martyrs who sacrificed their lives for the propagation of the faith serves as seeds for the eventual growth of the Church.
Today’s Red Wednesday is a commemoration to those who offered their lives for the spread of the faith. It is in this humble remembrance that we show our solidarity and communion with the martyrs who were already in heaven, interceding for us before God so that we would not be hindered with the fear of death in our efforts to continue proclaiming the good news of salvation and the glory of the Kingdom of God.
The least we could ponder as a word of inspiration in today’s commemoration is that all the hardships and difficulties we encounter and endure in this life for the glory of the Kingdom would merit everlasting reward from God in the afterlife.
~Jasper Christian Gambito/ St. Peregrine Laziosi Diocesan Shrine