Pray! Pray, but with faith – with living faith! Courage! Onward, ever onward!" - (The words of St John Bosco as he was dying)
Gospel text (Lk 21,12-19):
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."
What is today’s Gospel calling us to do? It is an invitation to pray for our Christian brothers and sisters around the world who to this very day are facing persecution. Regrettably, some will face death. They are indeed the martyrs of this era. Their faith in Jesus provides an enormous witness value to all of us. The question is, of course, do we let it become a witness value for us?
Hence, we need to reflect about how willing we are to live our lives more fully as Christians. Certainly in the first world and in the developing nations there is such a growing secularism that forces so many Christians and other religious people to privatize their faith lives. That is, to make their faith more of a private matter in the home or at Church and to never let their beliefs lead them to act at work or in the larger community. That has led people, perhaps including you, to be so reluctant to address communal issues from a Christian perspective. For an example, do you have the courage to speak out against injustices and immoral actions? We are being called to be more assertive in living out our faith.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus offers to give us the wisdom to speak and to address our adversaries or those who may reject us due to our faith. We should be consoled by that promise! In fact, the real message is this: that God will always be there for us. Now on our part, we need to decide if we can place such trust in God where ever we are in the world!
Each one of us has experienced unspeakable moments’ of pain, betrayal and sadness in this life. Moments when it seems that all is lost. Jesus has promised not to leave us, not to forget us, not to turn away from us. He hasn’t left me out there to wade through the muck and mire of each painful moment by myself. On the contrary, he’s made a promise to be there.
While this promise doesn’t mean we won’t experience hardship and pain in this life (we will) what it does promise is something greater, something that supersedes the pain of this life and something that can never be taken away from us. Not only does Jesus promise to be with us always, providing us with wisdom and grace for every situation, he assures us that in the end no part of us will be destroyed but rather that our lives will be secured through our perseverance in this world.