The WORD in Other Words by Fr Jun de Ocampo SVD (Germany)
Saturday 5th Week of Easter
Acts 16:1-10, John 15:18-21
All throughout her history, the Church has experienced opposition and persecution. But these in fact made the church grow from strength to strength. Pope Francis said once in one of his Masses: “There are many martyrs today, in the Church, many persecuted Christians. Think of the Middle East where Christians must flee persecution, where Christians are killed… There are more witnesses, more martyrs in the Church today than there were in the first centuries.”
The Philippines where a majority of Christians in the Far East live is not exempted from persecution. Probably not yet of the type we know of as happening in the Middle East and in other non-Christian countries, like live beheading and slaughtering of Christians, destruction of their churches and desecration of holy places. It takes the form rather of persecution against Christian beliefs and practices, against its moral stand for the culture of life, and against its ministers through social media.
Today‘s Gospel is a strong reminder about what we Christians could expect while we live in this world. Jesus is very clear to all who want to be his followers: “If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you.” There is so much to fear, but our Lord Jesus assures us: “Fear no one. Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul… Rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy both body and soul…”