Thursday, August 9, 2012
The Diaconate, Martyrdom and Preaching the Gospel
In early Christan history, stories about the martyrdom of deacons for the Church have been widespread. From the first century martyr, St Stephen, to St Lawrence in the 3rd century, the deacon was called to do the work of the Church in spite of risks to their welfare.
The call for the deacon today is no different than the call at the beginnings of the Church. We are called to serve our bishop and proclaim the good news to all people. Sometimes that news is contrary to what secular society wants to hear. The Chic-fil-A incident illustrates the response someone may get if they proclaim their belief in the traditional view of marriage between one man and one woman. One will be called hate-filled, a bigot, and their livelihood may be threatened.
This extreme example of retribution recently happened to a sociologist who published research that children in homes with one father and one mother are much more likely to be well adjusted and successful in life when compared to other non-traditional family structures. Critics of his research wanted him fired from his job; not because his research was incorrect (they were not sociologist), but because it did not support their view of the family. For any group to attempt to take away someones ability to earn a living because of their opposing views is a reminder of a dark period in European history when the Fascist and National Socialists were in power. Could this type of persecution happen in the United States?
Yet even if it does, deacons will be called to speak the truth and proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ. And when they do so on critical issues that face society, they may be criticized, even by their own congregations.
Let us hope that the deacons in today's Church will have the courage to speak the truth, even in the face of adversity and persecution.