Galatians 5:1-15, Feast of Absalom Jones
In Paul’s day, to be circumcised was the visible sign for Jewish men of their faith; they were indelibly marked, changed as a symbol of their faith. For centuries circumcision, or not, was a raging controversy for Christians. Today, for many Christians the visible sign is wearing a cross that can be taken on or off, even used as a fashion accessory. Holy Baptism leaves no visible, long-lasting mark. Think about those who visibly show their faith, their love of God, their devotion to their beliefs—how do you know he or she is a person of faith? How would anyone know you were a person of faith?
I have learned that the moments when we bear (besides wear) our cross are very precious to Christ—far more than our rejoicing— and so I am not ashamed to say I suffer. To paraphrase St. Paul—I boast my stripes and my beatings, …I know people who wear the hidden stigmata of a person of faith. It may be a North Korean Christian—can it not be that the battered face, the tears, the emaciation or fatigue, the test of near despair psychologically yet the faithfully clinging to God is a talisman in heaven an imprint of the estate of the King we call the Cross?