Preserve

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.”
(Luke 21:12-19)

 

Scripture Study

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.[1]

Reflection

Friends, today’s Gospel passage describes the persecution Christians face before the end of the world. When does the church stop being persecuted? When the Lord returns, and not before.

From the earliest days until the present, the community of Jesus Christ has been the focus of the world’s violence. There is the old principle: “kill the messenger.” And it 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. Always. 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.

 

 

[1]  Saint Luke’s Gospel, The Navarre Bible (Dublin; New York: Four Courts Press; Scepter Publishers, 2005), 170–171.