When Jesus was presented in the Temple, Simeon prophesied that Jesus would be a "sign of contradiction" (Lk 2:34, our transl). This was shockingly exhibited by the fact that Jesus was crucified. Jesus' followers are also signs of contradiction. We will be persecuted, and some will be martyred. In this way, the world manipulates us into compromising the truth of the gospel. Therefore, we must be willing to suffer any degree of rejection, insult, or pain (see 1 Cor 4:10ff) so that we will never lose our freedom to proclaim the gospel courageously without compromise.
To endure pain and persecution for love of Jesus is possible only by God's grace. This grace of courage is usually preceded by many other graces given especially in our formative years:
- total commitment to Jesus,
- a thorough, prayerful formation in God's word,
- a vibrant, established sacramental life,
- Christian brotherhood and sisterhood lived in Christian community,
- submission to the authority of the Church,
- commitment to penance and sacrifices, and
- a rightly formed conscience.
Many Christians seem to be wimps and cowards in more recent times. They are easily manipulated into compromise by the mere thought of possibly being a little unpopular. Some Christians even doubt objective truth and morality. We must repent, accept the foundational graces of courage, and then speak courageously the unadulterated truth in love (see Eph 4:15).