|"Uninterruptedly night and day, amid the tombs and on the hillsides, he screamed and gashed himself with stones. Catching sight of Jesus at a distance, he ran up and did Him homage, shrieking in a loud voice, 'Why meddle with me, Jesus, Son of God Most High?' " —Mark 5:5-7
In our present golden age of martyrdom and in our culture of death, we relate to today's Scripture readings better than ever before. Currently in Communist China, many Muslim countries, and the secular humanistic Western world, Christians are more than ever mocked, scourged, chained, imprisoned, beaten, "put to death at sword's point" (Heb 11:36-37), and executed in many other ways.
Although Christians are not tolerated, all manner of perversions are protected by law in the Western world. Law has become lawless. For example, if the Gerasene demoniac marched naked, screaming, and bleeding in a "gay-rights" parade, he would probably not be arrested (see Mk 5:2ff).
How do we replace this culture of death with a civilization of love and life? We do so by suffering martyrdom, or at least by suffering redemptively for God's kingdom. Persecution and martyrdom are not only caused by the culture of death but will be the death of the culture of death. Pope John Paul II has taught: "It is suffering, more than anything else, which clears the way for the grace which transforms human souls" (On the Christian Meaning of Human Suffering, 27). As Jesus, by His death, robbed "the devil, the prince of death, of his power" (Heb 2:14), so we, by suffering in the pattern of Jesus' death (Phil 3:10), will bring down the culture of death. Rejoice "in the measure that you share Christ's sufferings" (1 Pt 4:13).