A reading from the Letter of Saint Paul to the Romans 8:18-25
Brothers and sisters:
“I consider that the sufferings of this present time are as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed for us…”
The Sacrament of Confirmation fully initiated us into the mystical body of Christ. It prepared, and commissioned us to share the good news as evangelists and, we should not be surprised if we suffer persecution for doing so.
Our Lord said, “Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you [falsely] because of me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven.” (Matthew 5:11-12)
From its earliest beginning, the church experienced threats, and orders, from secular governments, and ironically from ‘religious’ leaders, not to speak about ‘Jesus’. “So they called them back and ordered them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered them, ‘Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge; for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.’” (Acts 4:18-20)
Our dear country from its birth has been a haven for religious freedom. I fear, however, that, now even here, we have begun to experience restrictions on when and where we can speak about ‘Jesus’, and the extent to which we can exercise and profess our beliefs outside of church. As if in a sort of vacuum, in past years, we have enjoyed the freedom to be Christians and proclaim the name of ‘Jesus’ while Christians, around the world, have experienced restrictions, persecutions, and martyrdom for simply practicing their faith, for example: Spain, Portugal, France, Mexico, China, Vietnam, Africa, and multiple middle-Eastern countries – to the point of celebrating Mass and receiving Sacraments clandestinely, if priests could be found.
The words of the first reading are a good reminder – and must be a constant reminder that gives us hope – that “…the sufferings of this present time are as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed for us…” In other words, the sufferings we encounter nowadays, for simply practicing and proclaiming our faith, are disproportionately small compared with the eternal reward we will receive in heaven from our Lord Jesus.