“I Myself Will Give You A Wisdom in Speaking That all Your Adversaries Will Be Powerless to Resist or Refute”(Lk 21:15).
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
Christianity was founded by Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, as the religion committed to love and peace. Christianity has been embraced by millions of people from different social, cultural, and political traditions and convictions. Christianity has greatly contributed to the formation of the world’s civilization and culture.
However, Christianity has been, from the first moment of its appearance, the object of suspicion, hatred and persecution. The first generations of Christians in Rome were forced to go literally underground because they were deprived of not only their properties but also their dignity and rights as human persons. Thousands of Christians were imprisoned and thousands of them died both in the hands of cruel persecutors and in the mouth of hungry animals.
Such persecutions keep being repeated whenever Christianity is introduced to a new land and people: the blood of Christians was shed on the soil of Europe, Americas, Africa, and Asia. In Viet Nam from the second half of the XVI century to the XX century thousands and thousands of Christians were killed by kings and dictators. Of those martyrs 118 were canonized by the Church as heroic witnesses of faith in Christ.
Why did Christians suffer from such violent oppressions and persecutions? What wrong did they do?
Christians despite unjust charges and false accusations of their adversaries have proved to be simply victims of hatred. Our Lord already told us about this in the Gospel according to Saint John, Chapter 15, verses 18 and 19: “If the world hates you, realize that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, the world would love its own; but because you do not belong to the world, and I have chosen you out of the world, the world hates you.”
As for Christ, He was also accused falsely. But in the end, the enemy having failed to charge Him with any crime admitted the motivation of their action against Him: “We are not stoning you for a good work but for blasphemy. You, a man, are making yourself God”, as written in John Chapter 10, verse 33.
Christ was persecuted for telling the truth that He was sent by God the Father into the world, that the world needs repentance of their sins, and more importantly that “God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him might not perish but might have eternal life”, as written in John, Chapter 3, verse 16.
Christians, too, are sent into the world with the same message of salvation. They have on the one hand to tell the truth about God’s merciful love and forgiveness in the name of Jesus Christ. On the other, they are to denounce the world’s wrongdoings and urge sinners to abandon their old way of life.
It is not easy for a humanity imprisoned and paralyzed by organized and social sins to get out of the darkness of sin and death.
The forces of evil never allow their victims to escape without paying a high price.
These are the reasons why Christians who remain faithful to their faith in Christ have to undergo persecution and death.
But by willingly accepting all the consequences of an expensive faith paid not with money or gold but with their own blood, Christians are sure that they belong to Christ, their Lord and God.
Besides, they are encouraged by the very words of Christ when facing the forces of evil in the world : “I Myself Will Give You A Wisdom in Speaking That all Your Adversaries Will Be Powerless to Resist or Refute”.
Fr. Francis Nguyen, O.P.