I hear the whisperings of many: “Terror on every side! denounce! let us denounce him!” All those who were my friends are on the watch for any misstep of mine.
Do you ever feel like everyone is against you? Do you sometimes feel like you can do no right in the eyes of some people? There have been times when I catch heat from a boss, argue with some representative over the phone and then come home and butt heads with my spouse. You may have a more dramatic example of a case where it seemed like everyone was just out to get you.
Our initial reaction to this sort of situation is to try to please those who are unhappy with us. We don’t like conflict and we usually look for a way to get out of it. However, as Christians we are called to be witnesses. Today’s readings show us that when we follow Christ we will gain enemies. We can recall that in the Gospel Jesus told his disciples that they would be persecuted on his behalf.
Does this mean that we need to be happy with having enemies? No, of course not. We don’t need to be glad to have enemies but we must be faithful to God even if we gain enemies because of it. When we denounce evil and embrace the cross we become very visible witnesses. The light that shines on you will bring light to any darkness around you as well.
Those around you may feel self-conscious and defensive as the contrast between you and them grows greater. They will persecute you and make fun of you. They will watch your every step to call out your every mistake. They will look for ways to make you look bad to make themselves feel better. Do not be afraid to suffer for Christ. This is how you witness to the world that your love for Christ is more than just words or a statement of belief.
As you grow wounds in your hands the size of nails and a piercing in your side you will begin to more closely resemble Christ. It is those wounds that we can then show to the world to witness that we are Christians.