I've got a bad feeling about this
Today’s readings challenge us – indeed, we may even be afraid of them – because today’s readings talk about people who are faithful to God, who speak only the truth, and whom society wants to kill.
In the Gospel, John the Baptist is executed for speaking the truth about immorality in high places and the king who ordered John’s death also begins to wonder about Jesus. In the first reading, powerful forces seek the death of the prophet Jeremiah because he has spoken against them.
Even today, there are places in this world where we could be imprisoned and even killed for trying to spread the Gospel of Christ. And even in places that profess “freedom of religion” a creeping intolerance seeks to stifle those who dare to speak the truth revealed by God.
Sometimes the opposition is subtle and even has a veneer of reasonableness. More and more, however, those who are serious about living and speaking their Christian faith are ridiculed and hated.
Peer pressure has led many public figures who call themselves Catholic to condone and even support abortion on demand. Religious organizations are being forced by courts and legislatures to fund immoral practices.
The social censorship of “political correctness” is slowly permeating into legal, regulatory, and juridical spheres to impose consequences on those so bold as to say what they believe. Civil lawsuits have already been filed against those who dared to express traditional Christian teaching. (One wonders when and in which “modern” nation traditional Christian teaching will be criminalized first.)
At first, this seems very depressing. Then, we hear today’s readings… and we get even more depressed. But then, we remember the words of our Lord:
Blessed are you
when people revile you and persecute you
and say all manner of evil against you falsely
for my sake.
Rejoice, and be exceeding glad:
for great is your reward in heaven:
for so they persecuted the prophets before you.
Sometimes it isn’t easy being a Christian, but no matter what happens – very good or very, very bad – all things will pass, and if we have been faithful channels of God’s grace, then we will enjoy the infinite goodness of the Lord’s love without end.
Life is hard. Grace is forever.