Persecution

For Sunday, November 13th, 2022

Reading

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

Reflection

What does a hostile persecution of the faith look like? Think of what it would be like to live somewhere in the world where Christianity is illegal; imagine being persecuted by your own family, arrested and imprisoned by the government, and killed for practicing the faith. For many people throughout the world, this is a reality, and Jesus predicted this would be the case.  

As Christian men, we should expect persecution. Persecution is nothing new in the history of the Church. St. Timothy warns us in his second letter saying, “[A]ll who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12). It is not hard to find plenty of good illustrations of this. For example, St. Paul had just been stoned, dragged out of the cities of Antioch and Iconium, and thought dead. Then, when he was restored to health, he preached the Gospel in a different city and made many disciples by God’s grace. Next, he returned back to the city that stoned him and exhorted the disciples there, saying, “It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships to enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22). 

So what does all this mean for you and I? It’s simple: be ready. Be ready for persecution from the world but know that you were not made for this world. Tell the world that you were made for more. That is the challenge for you and I this day – to be a bold witness, to be ready as St. Paul and so many others who have gone before us. The more you trust in the Gospel and practically apply it to your life, the less there is to fear. 

In your silent prayer today, imagine yourself deeply entrenched in a persecution. Where would you be? Are you hiding? Preaching in the streets? Or even, locked behind bars? As you reflect on this, beg God for the grace of perseverance and courage in the face of persecution.

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