Monday of the Sixth Week of Easter
(Acts 16:11-15; John 15:26-16:4a)
Since its recent turnover of government, Egypt has been added to the list of “countries of particular concern” published by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. Other nations with the doleful distinction include Burma, China, Iran and Iraq. Most of these rights-violating countries are either Muslim or Communist led, but Christian nations have often shown intolerance. In the gospel today Jesus foresees his followers being persecuted. No doubt he would have wept if he saw religious intolerance carried out in his name.
Jesus goes on to promise his disciples the “Spirit of truth” so that, among other testimony, they may bear witness to his patience with people who hold different viewpoints. As he deplores the persecution of those who proclaim him as Lord, he does not intend that belief in him be forced upon anyone.
Today the United States remembers its war dead. Although our country has often mixed good and questionable motives for engaging in war, we say with grateful pride that our soldiers have typically given their lives for the cause of freedom. Here it should be emphasized that the practice of one’s religion without harassment constitutes the most basic freedom.