the seed of conversion
"I went to extremes in persecuting the Church of God and tried to destroy it." —Galatians 1:13
At the time this teaching is written, there are terrorist groups that are persecuting Christians in certain Middle East nations "to extremes." Christians are being driven out of entire regions. They are being beheaded. It seems that the witness to Jesus in these regions is lost forever, and that the witness of these Christians was "in vain" (Is 49:4).
Yet the truth is that "the blood of martyrs is the seed of Christians" (Catechism, 852, Tertullian). St. Paul was present at the martyrdom of St. Stephen and approved his execution (Acts 8:1). Nevertheless, Stephen's shed blood, witness to Jesus, and words of forgiveness undoubtedly made a profound and mysterious impact on St. Paul. He eventually converted to Christianity. Countless people in the very regions in which Paul tried to blot out Christianity "heard that 'he who was formerly persecuting us is now preaching the faith he tried to destroy' and they gave glory to God" (Gal 1:23-24).
Can you imagine the terrorists who beheaded Christians converting to Jesus and becoming worldwide missionaries for Christ? That is no less probable than the conversion of St. Paul. "Nothing is impossible with God" (Lk 1:37). Such dramatic conversions have occurred throughout Church history. One of the Twelve apostles, St. Simon, was a Zealot and could possibly have been involved in terrorist activities before he was called by Jesus (see Mk 3:18). Therefore, "do not let them intimidate you" (Mt 10:26). Witness to Jesus with your life.
Prayer: Father, give me unshakable faith and unswerving confidence in You.
Promise: "Truly You have formed my inmost being; You knit me in my mother's womb." —Ps 139:13
Praise: St. Francis witnessed to the Muslims about Jesus.
Reference: (This teaching was submitted by a member of our editorial team.)
Rescript: †Most Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Auxiliary Bishop, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, March 31, 2016
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