Two very different men: Cornelius was Bishop of Rome, Cyprian Bishop of Carthage, North Africa. They were contemporaries. Both were totally committed to their faith but differed in their approaches to some aspects of theology.
What gave courage to these two men to undergo persecution, and even death, because of their faith?
To them Jesus was a reality.
The faith handed down from the Apostles was a treasure that they valued.
They had a sense of responsibility as Bishops to pass on the faith, and to protect its fulness of expression.
Both lived in constant fear for their lives but were committed to living their faith.
There were groups that had gone away from the main Catholic Church, in those days, but they both worked for the unity of the Church, true to its full teachings.
They both believed that God would not abandon them.
There are still Christian martyrs in our times. In fact, there are more Christians killed and persecuted for their faith today than any other group
We all have questions sometimes.
There are human realities in the Church which can at times disappoint us. After all, the Church is composed of human beings, and human beings sin.
However, the Church is based ultimately on Jesus, and He promised to stay with us until the end of time.
It pains me when people walk away from the family of the Church over some disagreement. They are valued members of our family.
Of course, no-one has a right to judge anyone, and I certainly do not wish to do so.
However, it is good for us to keep hearing the Words of Jesus when He prayed that we all be one, as the Father and Him are one.
Ultimately, it is because of Jesus that we stay united in the Church family. He is bigger than our human frailty and infidelities.
The Church always is in need of reform.
Cornelius and Cyprian and so many others, remind us that Jesus is our strength and life, and He will continue to work with and through His Church, true to His promise.