They strengthened the spirits of the disciples and exhorted them to persevere in the faith, saying, “It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships to enter the Kingdom of God.” They appointed presbyters for them in each Church and, with prayer and fasting, commended them to the Lord in whom they had put their faith.
Paul is stoned for preaching the Good News, but he does not let that stop him from giving witness to the Divine Word. Imagine being pummeled with rocks to the brink of death for living out our faith. It seems so foreign to us and yet each day people die for the faith. They might not die in our neighborhoods, but they do die in areas of the world that are hostile to Christianity. These martyrs choose faithful deaths over safe lives and we would do well to remember them in our prayers and when we are faced with our own choices between holiness and worldliness. We should realize that to be true disciples of Christ means that we will have to undergo many hardships, trials, and tribulations. There is no free ride to the Kingdom of God. The narrow path is paved with sacrifices... physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual. Prayer, fasting, and charity provide us with the nourishment we need to walk the Way of Christ, defend ourselves from temptations, and arrive at the Gates of Heaven where we shall hope to be welcomed by God not solely because of anything we’ve done, but because Jesus Christ died for us and we were willing to accept his saving grace.
Do we remember those who have died for the faith? How can we imitate the fidelity of the martyrs in our own lives? What are we willing to sacrifice for God and His children?
O Lord, we honor your sacrifice by choosing to live in imitation of you.