Friday of the Fourteenth Week in Ordinary Time
(Hosea 8:4-7.11-13; Matthew 9:32-38)
Oddly, in a way, religious freedom has been threatened as secularism becomes more dominant. One would think that fewer people would care how religious people worship. But worship is more than praying in church. A believer’s whole life should manifest different ways of giving God His due. Today religious people are being persecuted for refusing to cooperate with evil that has been sanctioned by the state. Pro-life pharmacists are being harassed by government for not selling abortion inducing pills. Catholic women religious are being pressured into providing contraceptives for their employees. In today’s gospel Jesus warns his disciples to expect such mistreatment.
Jesus tells his disciples to be as “as shrewd as serpents.” He wants them to avoid confrontation with their persecutors as much as possible. But they are also to be “as simple as doves”; that is, he does not want them to obfuscate the truth with rationalizations. Jesus recognizes that this strategy will led to persecution but will assure his followers of rewards for their valor.
All of us may not be persecuted directly for practicing Catholicism. Nevertheless, we have a responsibility to support those who are. We should consider voting for policy-makers who truly respect religious freedom. We may also contribute to the payment of costly legal fees of those who are being harassed. Of course, we are to pray that our society seek and preserve true justice.