Around the world, we hear stories of persecution of Christians. Faced with death or threats to life, they are forced to make painful decisions regarding their faith in Jesus.

Christians died in the bombing of a church in Egypt on Palm Sunday this year. Shortly after, a group of pilgrims on the way to visiting a church were stopped by terrorists, looted of valuables and were forced to renounce their religion. One by one, these pilgrims that included children, refused to give up their faith. And one by one too, they fell dead on the ground.  In the Philippines, a priest and his parishioners were among the first hostages taken by terrorists in the city of Marawi. Until now, nothing has been heard about their fate.

Jesus tells us in today’s gospel (Mt. 10: 37-42) that serious challenges to faith, if not outright persecution, will definitely come. One day we will find ourselves making a choice: “Do you love your family more than Me? Do you love your work more than Me? Do you love your money more than Me? Do you love your ambitions and dreams more than Me? Are you going to carry your cross or abandon it?”

Thank God, for many of us, daily decisions do not include death because of our faith. Unlike others who suffer persecution, we are free from direct attacks on faith. But still, there are real challenges we have to face, and these involve the choices we make each day that directly put to question our priorities, loyalty and allegiance to the Lord. In the face of these choices, do we uphold our personal taste, our attachments to the world or our preference for lifestyes contrary to God’s holy will?

In seemingly small and harmless choices, sadly, we usually fail. How easily Catholics leave their faith behind when they hear other doctrines from sects and cults. How convenient it is to agree with politicians but to question the shepherds of our souls. When suffering looms above us, we make room for compromise rather than live by the Word of God.

The martyrs, those who courageously fought for their faith, are important because they remind us of the gospel truth: he who seeks life will lose it. He who loses life for me, will find it.

We may not share the dramatic plight of the martyrs past and present. But do we at least share their conviction?