St. Paul advocates that we be all things to all people. He tells us to rejoice with those who are rejoicing, weep with those who are weeping, have the same regard for everyone (Romans 12:15-16). Upon close examination of Paul’s letter, we learn Paul is not telling us to imitate political candidates on the campaign trail. He is imploring us to be single-minded…to be Christ (all things) to all people at all times, especially to those who persecute us.
Pope Francis often publicly prays for an end to the persecution of Christians. People and nations only persecute those they know can defeat them. Herod, Nero and Diocletian – a few of history’s more infamous persecutors – had to destroy Christians because fear was destroying their hearts.
There are modern versions of Herod, Nero and Diocletian, and they are still trying to destroy Jesus.
Today’s persecutors are like the persecutors of old – they reject the Lord, they don’t value the dignity of life and marriage, and they pursue the death of others’ body, mind and spirit.
Today’s persecutors are consumerism; secularism; materialism; moral relativism and sexism.
Modern-day persecutors know that if we choose to resemble Jesus, if we choose to be single-minded like Paul and be Christ to all people, then incomparable peace is ours – the peace no person or government can take from us.
But if being Christ-like brings peace, it brings the sword and cross as well. We can’t rest with the joy that comes with resembling Jesus; like the early Christians, we have to bear the bitterness as well.
Our calling to resemble Jesus is becoming increasingly difficult because of the erosion taking place in our society. Parts of our society persecute us for our beliefs, for our witness, for our daring to be counter-cultural. We should never be worried when we are attacked, only when we are ignored. To be ignored is to reject St. Paul’s instruction – resemble Jesus at all times, to all people and under all circumstances.