Saturday, August 18, 2007

Jesus the Realist

In our Gospel reading for tomorrow, Jesus warns that if we follow him we can have trouble at home, and Jesus knows we have to live at home. Jesus says:

Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division! From now on five in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three; they will be divided:

father against son and son against father,
mother against daughter
and daughter against mother,
mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law
and daughter-in-law against

At various times and places it has been, and still is, dangerous to be a Christian. Families have been torn apart by divided loyalties. Take the case of Perpetua, a third-century martyr. She was a twenty-two-year-old married woman. Here is what Wikipedia says about her, and it reflects all other historical writings I know about Perpetua and her friends:

By order of Septimius Severus (193–211), all imperial subjects were forbidden under severe penalties to become Christians or Jews. Only recent converts were affected. In consequence of this decree, these five catechumens at Carthage were seized and cast into prison. After their arrest, but before being led away to prison, all five were baptized.

According to her "Acts," the terrors of imprisonment were increased for Perpetua by anxiety for her young child, not yet weaned. Two
deacons succeeded in gaining admittance by bribing the jailer, and Perpetua's mother brought in her arms the little son, whom Perpetua was permitted to nurse and retain in prison with her, "and straightway I became well and was lightened of my labour and care for the child; and suddenly the prison was made a palace for me."

A vision assured her of her approaching martyrdom: Perpetua saw herself treading on a dragon's head and ascending a perilous bronze ladder leading to green meadows, where a flock of sheep was grazing. According to the "Acta," a few days later Perpetua's father, hearing that the trial of the imprisoned Christians would soon take place, again visited their dungeon and besought her not to bring this disgrace on their name; but Perpetua remained steadfast. The next day the trial of the six confessors took place, before the Procurator Hilarianus. All six resolutely confessed their Christian faith. Perpetua's father, carrying her child in his arms, approached her again and attempted, for the last time, to induce her to apostatize; the procurator also remonstrated with her, but in vain. She refused to sacrifice to the gods for the safety of the emperor. The procurator thereupon had the father removed by force; in the process he was struck with a whip.

So, if there is someone in your household who does not want you to profess your Chrstian faith, what would you do?

In peace,


The Rev. Linda McCloud
Founding Pastor
The Episcopal Church of our Savior at Honey Creek

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