Friday of the Fourteenth Week in Ordinary Time
(Hosea 14:2-10; Matthew 10:16-23)
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 sisters are being pressured into providing contraceptives for their employees. Catholic doctors are being told they may have to leave their practice if they do not cooperate with physician-assisted suicide. 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 lead to persecution but also assures his followers of rewards for their valor.
Most of us will not be persecuted directly for practicing our faith. Nevertheless, we should support those who are. We should consider voting for policymakers who respect religious freedom. We may consider contributing to pay legal fees of those who are being harassed. Of course, we are to pray that our society will protect religious freedom.