Jesus said to the crowd:
“They will seize and persecute you,
they will hand you over to the synagogues and to prisons,
and they will have you led before kings and governors
because of my name.
It will lead to your giving testimony.
Remember, you are not to prepare your defense beforehand,
for I myself shall give you a wisdom in speaking
that all your adversaries will be powerless to resist or refute.
You will even be handed over by parents,
brothers, relatives, and friends,
and they will put some of you to death.
You will be hated by all because of my name,
but not a hair on your head will be destroyed.
By your perseverance you will secure your lives.”
21:12 will seize and persecute you Jesus describes the suffering that His disciples will undergo. In Acts, Luke details some of this persecution (e.g., Acts 5:17–18; 7:54–8:3; 12:1–5).
21:13 your giving testimony Persecution will give Jesus’ followers opportunities to proclaim the gospel.
21:15 I myself shall give you a wisdom in speaking Earlier in Luke, this ability to testify about God’s work is attributed to the Holy Spirit [The Spirit will give the disciples an appropriate response. This might not necessarily lead to their acquittal (all but one of the apostles reportedly died as martyrs), but it will bear faithful witness to the gospel (Luke 12:12). Here, Jesus says that He Himself will empower His followers to speak wisely and persuasively, showing a strong connection between Jesus and the Holy Spirit [The Greek term used here, paraklētos, refers to a legal assistant in a court who pleads someone’s case before the judge (compare 1 John 2:1). The judge is God, and people are judged based on whether they follow Jesus’ command to believe that eternal life comes through His death and resurrection (John 12:48–50). When on earth, Jesus was the means for believers to interact with God the Father since their sin prevented them from doing so directly. The Spirit is sent to do the same work. This is one of His many tasks (John 14:26).
21:16 by parents and brothers, relatives Compare Luke 12:49–53.
21:18 you will secure your lives Likely refers to eternal life in the age to come [Refers to the age that will follow final judgment—when God’s enemies are defeated and His kingdom is fully established (compare Rev 20–21)]. Verse 16 states that some of the disciples will be put to death, and church tradition holds that all but one (John) were martyred. Jesus is thus referencing the eternal fate of His followers.
Friends, today’s Gospel passage describes the persecution Christians face before the end of the world. When will the Church stop being persecuted? When the Lord returns, but not before.
From the earliest days until the present, the community of Jesus Christ has been the focus of the world’s violence. The old principle of “killing the messenger” applies here. The Church will announce, until the end of time, that the old world is passing away, that a new world of love, non-violence, and life is emerging. This announcement always infuriates the world of sin, which explains why the twentieth century was the bloodiest on record—and the one with the most martyrs.
What do we do in the meantime? We maintain a detachment from the world that is passing away, our eyes fixed on the world that will never end. And we speak confidently, boldly, provocatively the message of the Gospel, the dying and rising of the Lord.
– Bishop Robert Barron
May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.