Delivered on the Feast Day of St. Simon and St. Jude, Apostles
When Jesus calls his disciples out of the world and into his kingdom, he calls them to carry a cross. Jesus prepares his disciples for the grim reality that, just as the world hated, persecuted, and killed him, so they will do to those who confess that “Jesus is Lord.” A servant is not above his master.
The hatred of the world toward those who name the name of Christ has not abated in the 2,000 years of the Church’s history. Beginning with Christ’s own apostles, two of whom we commemorate on this feast day, the world has attempted to silence the witness of the faithful. According to tradition, St. Jude, Jesus’ half brother, was beheaded. St. Peter, as our Lord revealed to him, was killed by crucifixion. Many sources tell us that he requested to be crucified upside down because he considered himself unworthy to die in the same manner as his Lord. Even up to our day, Christians are continuing to be persecuted, imprisoned, and killed in countries around the world such as China and in various places in the middle east and Africa. Without God’s merciful intervention, the day may even come when Christians in our own country will be subject to the sword.
Yet Jesus does not simply leave us alone in this world to fend for ourselves. He does not lay a cross on our back and then walk away indifferent to our pain and suffering. Instead, he reminds us of why we carry a cross in the first place. Because we belong to him. He has called us out of this kingdom of darkness and into his marvelous light. For now, he calls us to share in his sufferings. But soon he will transform those sufferings into our future glory. One day, the dark hatred of the world will yield to the unapproachable light of Christ on the day that He returns to establish his kingdom. On that day--justice, righteousness, and blessedness will cover the earth. On that day the cries of the martyrs will change from “How long, O Lord?” to “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.”
May the Holy Spirit fill our hearts with the assurance that Jesus is coming soon. And may he bless us with hope so that we might patiently endure until that day.