May 18 – Memorial for St. John I, Pope and Martyr
John (d. 526) was a priest in Rome, and became the 53rd pope in 523. Italy’s ruler then, Theodoric the Goth, was an Arian. For a while he left the Catholics alone, but in later life he became suspicious of everyone, imagining conspiracies and attempts to seize his throne. He tried to involve Pope John in his political machinations. John led a delegation to Constantinople to negotiate with Emperor Justin I; he was the first pope to travel to Constantinople, and while there, crowned Justin. The mission was successful, but Theodoric thought John and Justin I had plotted against him. While returning to Rome, John was kidnapped and imprisoned by Theodoric’s soldiers. He died of thirst and starvation while in custody in Ravenna, Italy.
- Patron Saint Index
“They will do these things because they have never known either the Father or myself.”
Christ foretold suffering and persecution for His faithful, those who choose to remain with Him; so it is till this day.
In January this year, in a quiet location, a local government setting, in a Northern Nigerian State, a Christian pastor was kidnapped by an extremist fundamentalist group opposed to Christianity. The demand was clear, “denounce your Jesus Christ”, or embrace death as the opportunity cost. The pastor resented the demand and was murdered in the most gruesome manner that went viral; he was forced to dig a pit where he was pushed into and was beheaded.
In another bizarre account, also in January 2020, four young seminarians were kidnapped from their seminary hostel in another northern state in Nigeria by a marauding and blood-thirsty group who sought to instil fear and dejection in the lives of Christians; the ulterior mission was delimitation of belief in Christianity. One of the abducted seminarians, Mike, was elated to draw the attention of their abductors to the mission of existence, God, human creation in the image and likeness of God. He was killed for that because his kidnappers did not know God and Jesus Christ. This fulfilled the words of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
The above accounts will continue to live through the revelations of Our Lord Jesus Christ; these are like marching steps on the ladder of persecution constructed to extend to the glory of salvation for the faithful. For the faithful, persecution is the signpost to salvation.
(Today’s Oxygen by Julius Otusorochukwu Dike)
Prayer: Lord, we adore you and plead with you to sustain our faith in our determination to withstand pressure against our faith. We trust in you and rely on your help in standing firm in following you. Amen.
Thanksgiving: Oh Dear Lord, we thank you for helping us to maintain our tack as Christians even in the face of trials and temptation, we are indeed grateful. Amen.