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." (Acts 14:22)
Every so often, a verse from the readings will make my ears perk up. That was the case this morning as I heard the passage from the Acts of the Apostles proclaimed. Verse twenty-two, cited above, immediately turned my mind to my fellow CUSANS and our daily struggle to deal with the pain and frustration of chronic illness and/or disability. Everyone will eventually encounter hardships of some sort. Those hardships provide us with access to the Kingdom of God.
As I read through the list of saints that are remembered on May 11, I could not help but notice that so many of them were martyrs for the faith, men and women who suffered pain and torture because they put their faith in Jesus. Immediately after the resurrection of Jesus, he appeared to his disciples on several different occasions. These appearances are recorded in the Scriptures. Sometimes Jesus appeared to a solitary figure, but the Scriptures also tell us that in one instance he appeared to five hundred people at one time.
The fact that people believed that Jesus still lived despite his death on a cross is the reason that so many men and women were able to endure martyrdom. Today we remember men and women named Anthimus, Evelius, Maximus, Bassus, Fabius, Sisinius, Diocletius, Florentius, and Anastasius. This great cloud of witnesses reminds us that it is necessary to undergo many hardships to enter the kingdom of God.
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator