Stand Up

Imagine yourself in a room - sitting in your chair, rows of people around you.  Some of them you know, some of them you've seen in passing but never spoken to.  There's a man at the head of the room speaking.  You're taking notes, sometimes spacing out, but most of the time trying to pay attention to his words.  You glance at the clock frequently, and mentally plan your afternoon when the class gets out.  Typing, the clock ticking, pencils and pens scritching, the drone of the teacher's voice, occasional sounds of walking, laughing, talking in the hallway, perhaps another teacher's voice filtering in from the adjoining room.  These sounds are joined by a sharp, repeated popping sound, which gets louder and closer.

You have no idea what the sound is until the door is slammed open.  There's a person standing in the doorway; black ski mask, dressed in black, carrying a gun.  The people around you start to gasp and scream, but fall still when the gunman's voice rasps out:
"If you are a Christian, stand up."
You know he's going to shoot everyone who stands up, and he'll probably shoot to kill.  While there's no guarantee that you won't die if you stay seated, your chances of survival are better.  The people around you may or may not know your faith, but no one would argue with you for staying rigid in your chair.  Your friends and family may never know one way or the other.

You have dinner plans with a few friends, and you'd promised to take your sister out for her birthday.  You have dreams of dating and marrying a strong Christian spouse, and there's someone in your circle you might have a crush on.  There's groceries in your fridge, and you were planning to bake for your coworkers.  Your parents love and trust you, and you're enjoying life as an adult.  You just bought a car and started a new job.

Or you have a family.  You have children, maybe grandchildren, and you love watching them grow and learn.  You have a job, and you've worked hard to earn that paycheck that you bring home on payday.  You're hoping for a promotion if your project goes well.  You have a dog, a car, and a bunch of great friends at your parish.

You're facing death.  Death, the end of all the possessions, people, and dreams you know and hold dear.  Death, the dark door closing behind you, cutting you off from that morning cup of coffee and the date with friends.  Death, the step into the unknown that all men fear.

If you stand up, you'll be walking away from the life you know.  You'll be choosing something that most people would disregard in a heartbeat.  You'd place your faith in the invisible over your empirical knowledge of the visible world.

Yet a reward is offered you.
Stand up, and you're walking through that dark door - into the light.
Stand up, and you're ratifying a life-giving contract you made under the flowing waters of Baptism.
Stand up, and you're choosing not the flying bullet of a murderer's gun, but the outstretched hand of One who loves you, who already chose the long torture of the Cross to stand up for you.
Stand up, and trade the little happinesses you know, for the great, overwhelming joy of Heaven itself.
Stand up, and you'll receive the grace of martyrdom.

You have a choice.  And I wish I could say this is a hypothetical case.  But if you've read the news in the last 48 hours, you'll know that it isn't.  And if you know anything of the story of the world, you'll know that persecution and death run hand in hand with the Church.  Persecution is coming, and with it, the threat - or the gift - of martyrdom.

We are each of us called to be ready to die for our Savior.  How ready are you?


  1. So well written and on-point I just had to share it on Wordpress, with attributes:

  2. Wow -- thank you so much for the wonderful post. The UCC shooting was in my hometown, Roseburg, and we are all still reeling, still healing from this tragedy. I knew some of the people who were there. The question I have often asked myself: would I have stood up and said, "Yes"? I pray that I would have! There was one chance in three that I would have been there, at that time, in that same room. Again, thank you so much. Such a great reminder during such a difficult time.


    1. Rachel, thank you. Not having close contact with the tragedy, it's good to know I didn't entirely miss the mark. Please know that I'm praying for everyone affected by this horrible event! And I pray that we all have the strength to stand up if - and when - the time comes.


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