|Martyrdom of St. James|
- The persecution of the Christians in Jerusalem, particularly after the execution of James by Herod (about 15 years after the resurrection), sends Christian disciples all over the known world spreading the gospel. The blood of the martyrs is, indeed, the seedbed of the faith.
- As the early martyrs go singing to their deaths, the faith spreads not only among those already oriented toward faith, but to their persecutors converted by their amazing witness.
- The destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. accelerates the exodus and sends believers out en masse to evangelize the known world. What looked like an unmitigated disaster becomes an important means of spreading the faith.
But one in the council rising up, a Pharisee, named Gamaliel, a doctor of the law, respected by all the people, commanded the men to be put forth a little while. And he said to them: Ye men of Israel, take heed to yourselves what you intend to do, as touching these men.For before these days rose up Theodas, affirming himself to be somebody, to whom a number of men, about four hundred, joined themselves: who was slain; and all that believed him were scattered, and brought to nothing. After this man, rose up Judas of Galilee, in the days of the enrolling, and drew away the people after him: he also perished; and all, even as many as consented to him, were dispersed. And now, therefore, I say to you, refrain from these men, and let them alone; for if this council or this work be of men, it will come to nought; But if it be of God, you cannot overthrow it, lest perhaps you be found even to fight against God. And they consented to him. (Acts 5: 34-38)
When I examine my own life, I see how often what looked like a terrible event was actually a blessing for my life. At the time, I may have grieved or been disappointed or even angry; but in retrospect I can see God's Providential hand at work in my life. Today I'm going to reflect on one incident in my past that seemed like a disaster at the time, but became a source of blessing or conversion or a deepening of my walk with Christ.
My favorite scripture passage is, "All things work together for good to those who love the Lord and serve according to His purpose." (Romans 8:28) All things -- even those that appear negative, taken in the light of Christ, serve His Providential purpose.