I am wearing red today because it is the Feast of St Stephen, the first martyr. It seems appropriate that the feast of the first martyr is comes the first day after the Birth of Our Lord.
When we look at the Gospel, Jesus explains the cost of being a Christian. “Beware of men, for they will hand you over to courts and scourge you in their synagogues, and you will be led before governors and kings for my sake as a witness before them and the pagans.”
“When they hand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say. …. For it will not be you who speak but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.”
“Brother will hand over brother to death, and the father his child; children will rise up against parents and have them put to death. You will be hated by all because of my name.…”
It is not all doom. Jesus gave an ending with hope: “…. but whoever endures to the end will be saved.”
In many parts of the world today, Christians are martyred for their faith. The area of Syria and Iraq that is controlled by ISIS is the one that is in the news the most because it is so rampant. But other parts of the world, especially Muslim controlled areas, Christians are persecuted for their faith.
We are fortunate in this county that we aren’t martyred for our Catholic faith. It is important that we pray every day for Christians around the world that are being persecuted and martyred. We need to pray the God will strengthen them and keep them in his care. We also need to ask God to provide for them and grant them a special place in his kingdom.
I know we are busy in our daily duties, but let’s remember the Church and these Christians throughout the world in our prayers each day this coming year.