Imagine if the United States of America had no protections for religious freedom. Imagine if on your way to Mass today you were pulled over by secret police and put under arrest. When you ask, “What have I done,” they reply, “You’re accused of being a believing Catholic Christian.” The police have had you under intense surveillance for several weeks; wire-tapping your phone, monitoring your computer, searching your personal belongings, and recording your movements and activities. Imagine yourself in this situation and consider this question: when all of the evidence is presented against you at trial, will there be enough evidence to find you guilty of being a believing Catholic Christian?
Could their informants testify that you observe Fridays as a day of penance and Sundays as a day of rest, that you faithfully go to Mass and frequent the sacrament of reconciliation? Could anyone testify that they heard you say positive things about Jesus Christ or speak up for the Catholic faith when it was mocked or criticized in your presence? Could they put into evidence some rosary, Bible, or other Catholic book marked with your fresh fingertips? Would they have hidden-camera footage of you praying before meals at a restaurant? Would they have grainy night-vision footage of you praying before going to bed, or first thing in the morning, making the tell-tale sign of the cross.
The judge, looking down from his bench, says, “It is alleged that you were picked up on your way to Mass. We realize that people get mixed-up with these hateful superstitions for different reasons. Maybe you went there unthinkingly, out of custom or habit. Perhaps you felt pressured by your relatives or neighbors. The punishment for being found guilty of being a believing Catholic is grave, but if you would simply acknowledge your mistake and renounce Jesus Christ we will let you go.”
How would you answer? Our Lord Jesus Christ tells us:
Everyone who acknowledges me before others I will acknowledge before my heavenly Father. But whoever denies me before others, I will deny before my heavenly Father.” (Matthew 10:32-33)
We may never face red martyrdom, but we decide whether or not to acknowledge Jesus Christ as our King in many little ways. As Jesus says:
“The person who is faithful in very small matters is also faithful in great ones; and the person who is dishonest in very small matters is also dishonest in great ones.” (Luke 16:10)