Witness to faith
Saturday morning, pilgrims walked along the Tiber River and crossed it to reach the church of San Nicola in Carcere. This church stands over the remains of three ancient temples that stood at the edge of the Forum Holitorium, the vegetable market of the ancient city. Perhaps at some point, part of this temple complex was used as a detention site because the church built over it commemorates St. Nicholas in chains. St. Nicholas, the bishop of Myra, was brought to Rome under the persecutions of Diocletian only to be released after the Edict of Milan in 313 A.D., which granted Christianity legal status.
Today’s station church corresponds well to our Gospel in which we hear the chief priests and Pharisees ridicule some guards tasked with arresting Jesus. The guards’ defense is that Jesus spoke with authority – “never before has anyone spoken like this man.” Yet their reply is met only with ridicule from the authorities, who dismiss the guards and the crowd as naive.
In the face of ridicule
In some ways this passage holds true today. In the eyes of the broader society and culture some aspects of our faith are ridiculed especially in areas of morality. Like the guards in the passage we may feel chastised by a society that views our values as antiquated or quaint. However, through the gift of faith we hold strong to our convictions despite ridicule and, in some parts of the world, even open hostility. We strive to remain firm in our beliefs because we know their source of origin lies not only in the Church, but ultimately through her in Christ – the one who speaks with authority. He established the Church to safeguard and pass on his teachings and to expound them as necessary to face the challenges of each new generation.
This Lenten season is marked by practices aimed at converting our hearts so we may deepen our relationship with Christ. In doing so, may his teaching take deeper root in us too! May our conviction in Christ and his teachings be enriched so that we might give bold witness to our faith in this age, just as St. Nicholas was willing to bear imprisonment for this faith in his own.
Written by: Francisco Aguirre
Photo by: Fr. Justin Huber