13 Apr 2016
It’s helpful to know what you’re dealing with. Jesus knew the crowds wouldn’t believe him, and so he didn’t expect them to. And the Apostles and the early Church knew that persecution would come. They expected it; they knew what they were dealing with. Maybe that’s why the Apostles didn’t make a big deal of Saint Stephen’s martyrdom; they don’t even seem to have reacted to his death in any way.
Of course, there’s a difference between knowing what you’re dealing with, and being a pessimist. Of course, we Catholics aren’t pessimistic; we’re a people of faith and hope. But, at the same time, we know that we’re in an uphill battle right now. And so, we expect difficulty in trying to be Catholic out and about in the world. We expect people to ignore our efforts to evangelize. We expect others to dislike us.
That doesn’t mean we give up hope. It just means that we know what we’re dealing with, and we accept that. And this is helpful because it keeps our faith and hope (and happiness) grounded in Christ, and not in how others perceive us, or in our successes or failures. With Christ we know who we’re dealing with; we’re dealing with the Son of God who is always faithful, who wants us to have the best of life, who gives himself—Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity—for us.
And with that kind of attitude and acceptance of what the situation is, we can be like Saint Stephen, the early martyrs and the Apostles who just lived their life in Christ, regardless of what anybody else thought. Their hope and joy was in God alone. And, regardless of the ups and downs of our life, may God alone be our hope and joy as well.