Today’s Saint

Daily Journey with the Saints

May 10 | Persecution

Saint John of Ávila

A.D. 1499–1569

Think about all the groups,clubs, and teams that have tried to entice you to join throughout your life. How do they do it? They tell you about all the benefits, how it will help you, how much fun you will have, and generally try to make it overwhelmingly appealing.

Jesus doesn’t do that. He is not interested in manipulating or coercing people to follow Him. And unlike anyone else, He is brutally honest about the fact that you will suffer and the various forms this suffering will take. 

In fact, he even tells people that if they follow him, they will be persecuted.

And when persecutions aren’t coming from outside the Church, it’s possible they may come from within. That’s what happened to Saint John of Ávila.

John preached boldly and called out injustice wherever he saw it, even when it was against the authorities of the Church. This led to his arrest in 1531. He was charged with heresy and brought to the Spanish Inquisition. 

John spent a full year in prison. But he was prepared for this form of suffering. He had long ago dedicated himself to a life of discipline and simplicity. And so, even while unjustly imprisoned, he turned to God and found the calm confidence that he often preached about. 

After a year, Saint John of Ávila was cleared of all charges and released. He immediately resumed his work of preaching against injustice throughout all of Spain.

Saint John of Ávila knew persecution was the result of living the Gospel, and that’s why he was so prepared. After all, this is what Jesus tells his followers:

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you and utter all kinds of calumnies against you for my sake.” (Matthew 5:10-11)

Jesus isn’t saying, “Listen, if you decide to make this journey with me there is a slight chance that you will get persecuted.” Here and in other places in the Gospels, He promises His people persecution. He isn’t saying, “You might be persecuted.” He is saying, “You will be persecuted.” 

“Blessed are those who are persecuted.” This being the case, it is important not to intentionally avoid persecution in a way that causes you to abandon Jesus and His way. 

Life is difficult. Following Jesus is difficult. We only make it harder for ourselves when we try to make it easy. 

Are you ready to keep following Jesus in the face of persecution?


Jesus is with me in the face of persecution.

This reflection is brought to you from book title.

Patron Saint of: Spain and Spanish Priests

Feast Day: May 10 

Feast Day Shared By: Saint Gordianus, Saints Quartus and Quintus, and Saint Damien

Canonized: May 31, 1970

Canonized By: Pope Paul VI

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