I was baptized and received into the Catholic Church in 2003, some fifteen years ago now and in that time, I have met some amazing people doing amazing things as committed Christians, loving as they are called to love, raising families, ministering, living their lives and their vocations in so many different and powerful ways. I am edified by Christians most days and in so many ways these people (others too of course) make me want to be a better man! How empty these words of mine are to be, unless they are tested in some kind of way. How noble sounding these sentiments are unless I am prepared to live them as a Christian, come what may. I have met the best Christians and they are an example for me of living and committed faith, sacrificing and standing firm in the faith that has given them everything including surely the persecutions or denial as well. What we endure here is relatively light persecution, as secularism and a distaste for religious belief may make us feel ridiculed or uneasy about sharing our faith publicly. Others have it much worse, but whatever persecution or torment we receive for being Christian, it is a test for us we hope we pass “when the rubber hits the road”.
No one told me that being a Christian was going to be easy, although there have been times I have to confess that I expected them and wanted them to be. On my prayerful days when I am more intimately and profoundly connected to Jesus, I realize the importance of surrendering my own willful desires and making the necessary sacrifices asked of me as a Christian – but that is not every hour of every day, I hate to say. It’s important for us to seek that communion with God at all times, so we are doing the Will of the Father, by whose authority we live and love and give as Christians, as often as we can. We will be tested, as Jesus is tested in today’s Gospel. We must be ready for that test. We needn’t answer the question, just as Jesus doesn’t answer this question (because it’s a misguided and malicious question meant to trap Him anyway) but we needn’t answer it because it should be an occasion for us to reflect for ourselves upon why we are doing what we do – is it for Jesus? Or is it for ourselves? Let the answer be, as best as we are able to make it, that we do all things for Jesus and His Church, His people.
We pray for the strength and courage today, to be Christians in mind, heart and soul. We pray also to give firm and constant witness to our faith even through our suffering. Sts. Marcellinus and Peter, pray for us!