Memorial of Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, virgin and martyr
(Deuteronomy 31:1-8; Matthew 18:1-5.10.12-14)
Few people have given witness to Christ like a German Jew named Edith Stein. She was an accomplished philosopher who converted to Catholicism before World War II. She eventually entered a Carmelite monastery to pray and to study. After moving to Holland to avoid persecution, her identity was discovered. The Gestapo came for her and her sister hiding with her. “Come, Rosa,” she told her sister, “we are going for our people.” She meant that they would die, as Christ did, giving testimony to God’s love first for the Jews and then for all peoples.
Edith Stein, who became Sister Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, exemplifies today’s gospel message. Jesus tells his disciples that they must take up their cross to follow him. For Teresa Benedicta that cross meant her birth identity as a Jew. She died not only because of that but also because she wanted to follow her Savior Jesus.
If we think that we are safe from religious persecution, we are deluded. Christians around the world are being harassed for their faith. Even in western countries Christian medical personnel are being threatened with censure if they do not participate in abortion. It is not unlikely that Christian teachers will face losing their jobs for refusing to extol so-called homosexual marriage. As likely as these things will come to pass, we are not to worry excessively. The gospel also promises that Jesus will come with glory for those who uphold his ways.