Friends, in today’s Gospel, Jesus predicts the coming persecution of his disciples. And we can see his prophetic word realized through the ages.
Think of St. Peter himself, crucified upside down in the circus of Nero; of Felicity and Perpetua, thrown to wild animals because they wouldn’t deny their faith; of Thomas More, who resisted King Henry VIII and paid for it with his head; of Paul Miki, the Japanese Jesuit, who was crucified for announcing the Christian faith; of Padre Pro, who was shot to death for defying a repressive Mexican government, shouting as he was shot, “Viva el Cristo Rey!”; of Franz Jägerstätter and Dietrich Bonhoeffer, whom the Nazi regime put to death; of Maximilian Kolbe, who died at Auschwitz, willingly taking the place of another man. And the list goes on and on.
Indeed, the martyrs have come from all corners of the world, and they have spoken Greek, Latin, French, German, English, Japanese, Polish, and many other languages besides. Friends, this, strangely, is the army that undermines the foundations of the fallen world through the centuries. This is the great fighting force that Jesus has unleashed and continues to unleash.