Friends, in today’s Gospel, Jesus warns us to expect persecution. But do not be afraid, because in Jesus Christ, we are connected to the very power of God, to that which is here and now creating the universe. No matter how much violence and mayhem is going on, we have a place of safety.

How wonderfully Jesus expresses this: “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul.” The body passes, but the soul, that place where you are in contact with the living God, lasts forever. So get your fears in right order: “Rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna.”

Now think of the saints, especially the martyrs. They might be defined as those rare human beings who had rightly prioritized their fears. Of whom were they afraid? Not the wickedest human beings around them. Rather, they feared God. They worried not about what people wanted them to do but about what God wanted them to do.

None of these great figures lived a serene life, a life free of worry, threat, persecution. Instead, they found courage in the struggle. Their courage got them through the negativity.

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