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Whom to Fear

“I die his majesty’s good servant, but God’s first.”

St. Thomas More

My dear family in Christ,

This past Thursday we honoured the lives and deaths of two great English saints, Thomas More and John Fisher. More was a father of four and served as Chancellor in the King’s court, and Fisher was appointed Bishop of Rochester. Both saints were beheaded in 1535 by order of King Henry VIII, whom they resisted in the matter of his divorce and rebellion against the Pope; Fisher on June 22, and More on July 6.

Particularly praiseworthy is the fact that they not only faced persecution, but they did so pretty much alone- even among their own family members and peers. These two great Saints are not simply worthy of our memorials and veneration, but they profit us by their example- particularly for the courageous manner in which they lived out this Sunday’s Gospel.

After preaching His Sermon on the Mount, and after many great signs and wonders, Jesus summons His Apostles and sends them out (as we read last Sunday). As He sends them out, He solemnly warns them that they will face opposition and persecution. He encourages them and offers them comfort, but ultimately reveals to them the consequences of failures in fidelity: “...but whoever denies me before others, I also will deny before my Father in Heaven.” (Matthew 10:33)

Hard as it may be to put ourselves in the shoes(/sandals?) of the Apostles, Saint Thomas More, or Saint John Fisher, it would be a grave mistake to exempt ourselves from the great commission and warning of Jesus . We might not explicitly face guillotines or tyrant kings, but we do live in a world whose loudest and most powerful voices grow increasingly hostile to some rather fundamental teachings of Jesus Christ and His Church(especially those concerning the sanctity of Marriage and the dignity of human life).

The courageous acts for which we venerate these great Saints and Martyrs did not happen by accident. They may have given their lives on a particular day, but that was only possible because they had made a habit of giving every day to Jesus- refusing to compromise on the truth, and prioritizing fidelity to Christ above popularity and comfort. May we honour their memory by imitating their example in matters great and small, and may we do so out of love for Jesus and the world He died to save.

God love you,

Father Daniel

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