Perseverance

While some people were speaking about
how the temple was adorned with costly stones and votive offerings,
Jesus said, “All that you see here–
the days will come when there will not be left
a stone upon another stone that will not be thrown down.”

Then they asked him,
“Teacher, when will this happen?
And what sign will there be when all these things are about to happen?”
He answered,
“See that you not be deceived,
for many will come in my name, saying,
‘I am he,’ and ‘The time has come.’
Do not follow them! 
When you hear of wars and insurrections,
do not be terrified; for such things must happen first,
but it will not immediately be the end.”
Then he said to them,
“Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. 
There will be powerful earthquakes, famines, and plagues
from place to place;
and awesome sights and mighty signs will come from the sky.

“Before all this happens, however,
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.”
(Luke 21:5-19)

 

Scripture Study

21:5 noble stones: Herod the Great began to renovate and expand the Jerusalem Temple in 19 b.c. The structure was immense, with many of its stones measuring nearly 40 feet in length. According to Jesus, its indestructible appearance is only an illusion (21:6).

21:8 many will come: First-century Palestine experienced a surge of messianic fervor. Many claimed to be a “military Messiah” who would lead Israel to overthrow the Romans (Acts 5:33–39).

21:12 persecute you: Disciples must fearlessly identify with Jesus despite opposition (Mk 8:38; Jn 16:2–4, 33). Persecution will provide opportunities to proclaim the gospel. Luke recounts several such episodes where believers are locked up in prisons (Acts 4:3; 5:18; 8:3; 12:4; 16:23) and hauled before kings and governors (Acts 25:23–26:32).

21:15 a mouth and wisdom: Unlike professional orators who rehearse their speeches before delivering them, disciples should only prepare to be faithful. Christ will give them words through the Holy Spirit (Mt 10:20; Mk 13:11). Stephen was an example of this by his powerful witness in Jerusalem (Acts 6:9–10), as were other early Christians (Acts 4:8–14; 26:24–32).

21:16 parents … brothers … kinsmen: Jesus demands heroic allegiance that may drive a wedge between family members (14:26). Whether martyred or persecuted, the faithful will “gain” their lives (21:19) by laying them down for Christ (9:24).[1]

Reflection

By your perseverance you will secure your lives.

Jesus foretells all kinds of persecution. Persecution itself is something inevitable: “all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Tim 3:12). His disciples will have need to remember the Lord’s warning at the Last Supper: “ ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you” (Jn 15:20). However, these persecutions are part of God’s providence: they happen because he lets them happen, which he does in order to draw greater good out of them. Persecution provides Christians with an opportunity to bear witness to Christ; without it the blood of martyrs would not adorn the Church. Moreover, our Lord promises to give special help to those who suffer persecution, and he tells them not be afraid: he will give them of his own wisdom to enable them to defend themselves; he will not permit a hair of their heads to perish, that is, even apparent misfortune and loss will be for them a beginning of heaven.

From Jesus’ words we can also deduce the obligation of every Christian to be ready to lose his life rather than offend God. Only those will attain salvation who persevere until the end in faithfulness to the Lord. The three Synoptic Gospels locate his exhortation to perseverance in this discourse (cf. Mt 24:13; Mk 13:13) and St Matthew gives it elsewhere (Mt 10:22) as does St Peter (1 Pet 5:9)—all of which underlines the importance for every Christian of this warning from our Lord.[2]

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.

 

 

 

[1] Curtis Mitch, “Introduction to the Gospels,” in The Ignatius Catholic Study Bible: The New Testament (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2010), 147.
[2] Saint Luke’s Gospel, The Navarre Bible (Dublin; New York: Four Courts Press; Scepter Publishers, 2005), 170–171.