Gospel: Mt 9:1-8
Jesus got back into the boat, crossed the lake again, and came to his hometown. Here, they brought to him a paralyzed man, lying on a bed. Jesus saw their faith and said to the paralytic, “Courage, my son! Your sins are forgiven.”
Some teachers of the law said within themselves, “This man insults God.” Jesus was aware of what they were thinking; and said, “Why have you such evil thoughts? Which is easier to say: ‘Your sins are forgiven’ or ‘Stand up and walk’? But that you may know, that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins,” he said to the paralyzed man, “Stand up! Take your stretcher and go home!” The man got up, and went home.
When the crowds saw this, they were filled with awe, and praised God for giving such power to human beings.
We are remembering today the dozens of nameless Christians who perished during the first persecution inflicted on Christians, the one of depraved and brutal Emperor Nero, who hounded them mercilessly between the years 64 and 68, until death by suicide in 68 ended his horrible reign.
The pretext for this persecution was the following. Nero was infatuated with Greek architecture and wanted to rebuild a particular section of Rome in that style. So at night he sent his henchmen to set it on fire and thus destroy it completely. But when the public rumor pointed at him as the instigator of the fire, he needed scapegoats to blame for it. So he blamed the Christians and launched a vast persecution throughout Rome and its suburbs. Some Christians were dressed into animal skins and hunted down in the imperial parks, while others were made living torches to light the road for Nero’s nocturnal chariot rides.
Are there persecutions in our day? Yes, there are. A top Vatican official recently (on May 28, 2013 on Vatican Radio) said that around 100,000 Christians are killed every year for their faith.
To be a true Christian is to be ready to die for Christ. Are we true Christians?
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