This will be a fairly quick surmise of my homily from this past weekend.
I started by tell the story that Steve told at NCYC, regarding the one student of his who was shot during the tragedy at Columbine High School, specifically how she was afraid to make the last thing she said on this earth a denial of God.
We often think that the Age of the Martyrs was long ago, and ended with the Edict of Milan by the Emporer Constantine. But, it is not the case. In fact, the Patron Saint of this parish died in 1942 (St. Maximillian Kolbe). And, there were more Christian Martyrs in the last Century than in the previous 19 centuries, combined! The Age of the Martyrs has continued, and has grown int he last years. Jesus' prophecy in the Gospel continues to ring true, we are still being hauled in before princes and governors of this world in order to give testimony.
But there is a new type of martyrdom that is happening. When it comes to the big situations, such as faced that day in Littleton, Colorado, it can actually be easier to make that vow of trust in God. In a sense, the Red Martyrs have it the easiest.
There is a new type of martyrdom that is growning in the Church today, which has been referred to as a 'Green Martyrdom.' If you take the faith seriously, if you put God first in your life, you may face financial penalties. For example, refusing to work on Sundays because it is a day of rest, a day to worship God and spend time with family, could lead to being passed over for the next big promotion. What happens when you request time off during the week to attend Ash Wednesday MAss, or Mass for the Holy Day of Obligation (which DO still exist!)? "Well, you are not as committed to the team as so-and-so, they are getting the promotion."
This is happening in our world today.
Now, the question that we are posed here at the end of the Church year: are you willing to give that 'Yes' to God, even when it might lead to your own persecution? This is one of the things that I think JEsus is getting to in today's Gospel.
In fact, I am convinced that if the Church is to survive, not even thrive, just survive over the next 100 years, it is going to be on the faith and the commitment and the witness that the lay faithful have. My crediblility as a priest has unfortunately been shot down. In some sense, people expect me to say and do certain things, and I can get away with it because I am a priest. But the person on the street doesn't take it seriously.
But when you pray in your cubicle at work, or proudly wear a crucifix as a reminder of Christ's dying for my sins, or treat both friend and enemy with compassion, and hold yourself to the standard that Church asks you to live towards; you say much more by your actions than I could say in an hour and a half of preaching.
Are you willing to give the testimony that Jesus tells us we are to give?
This means you better know the faith, because you will be challenged.
This means you must live life with integrity, otherwise your actions cover the message of the words.
This means that you have to say 'Yes,' when the question is posed to you: "Do you believe in God?"
St. Max usually posts the homilies from the weekend on their website, too, eventually.