Jesus said to his disciples: “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 21:12-19)
Some time ago, I read an interesting text: “God never promised us an easy journey in life, only safe arrival.” I think this is true because Jesus in today’s gospel says that our life in this world is not an easy one. We should expect thorns sometimes in the form of persecution or, sufferings and hardships. We should learn to bear our crosses and find more meaning in difficulties. But we should not worry because God will provide us the means.
He says: “By patient endurance you will save your lives.” Christianity is a religion of martyrdom. Christianity is a religion of the cross. Jesus willingly shed His blood for our sake and He calls us to be martyrs too. But remember that the word martyr in Greek means ‘witness.’ St. Cyprian of Carthage once wrote: “When persecution comes, God’s soldiers are put to the test, and heaven is open to martyrs. We have not enlisted in an army to think of peace and to decline battle, for we see that the Lord has taken first place in the conflict.”
God may call some of us to be martyrs. But for most of us our call is to be “dry martyrs” who bear testimony to the joy of the gospel in the midst of daily challenges, contradictions, temptations and adversities which come our way as we follow the Lord; to witness to the joy, truth and freedom of the gospel; by our life, and real-life testimony. What attracts others to the gospel? They are attracted to the Gospel and to Christianity when they see us: Christians love their enemies, being joyful in suffering, patient in adversity, pardoning injuries and showing comfort and compassion to the hopeless and the helpless.
That may seem daunting, but I have seen over the years that the greatest witness has come from those that have suffered the greatest pain. I think that happens because when one goes through a traumatic event in life, one digs down deeply to find solace in Christ. Having found that solace in Christ makes one even more faithful to Him and to His word.
Prayer of The Day
Lord Jesus Christ, you persevered and joyfully carried your heavy Cross because you knew that the Cross was going to bring us redemption. Help us also to carry our crosses every day of our lives.
Your first task is to be dissatisfied with yourself, fight sin, and transform yourself into something better. Your second task is to put up with the trials and temptations of this world that will be brought on by the change in your life and to persevere to the very end in the midst of these things – St. Augustine