“The blood of martyrs is the seed of faith.” These words were first written by Tertullian, a Christian convert, in the late second century when severe persecution persisted throughout the Roman world. I tend to think religious persecution is a thing of the long distant past, not part of our current experience.

Upon further reflection, I recall many news stories during the past year about persecution driven by religious belief in the Middle East, Africa, India and so many other areas of the world. I have to work hard to convince myself these terrible situations are important to me. They involve real people like you and me who are children of God just like you and me.

I don’t have answers, but I do have questions. How might I accompany and even help people halfway around the world who suffer persecution today? When have I clothed the naked, fed the hungry, given shelter to strangers and visited the prisoner? Might I be more attentive to how people close to me are being persecuted.

—David McNulty works for the Midwest Jesuits. Dave and his wife Judy are grandparents of six.