No matter the cost
29 November 2017
As we conclude this liturgical year, we are presented with passages that contain unsettling language and imagery. In this Gospel, Jesus is alerting his followers that they will need to endure hardships ahead, beyond the time of his journey.
The early Christians knew all about the “endurance” of stoic grit, toughing it out, and their endurance was often tested. In fact, the Church’s history is awash with the blood of Christian martyrs. The apostle Paul wrote to Timothy,
“Indeed, all who desire to live Godly lives in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”
Today, the persecution of the church is a global phenomenon.
All over the world, and particularly in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, Christians are, by far, the most threatened religious group. Indeed, Vatican research shows that 75% of those killed around the world for religious reasons are Christians.
From Pakistan to Nigeria, from Egypt to Iraq, ordinary Christians routinely risk their lives by merely declaring their faith and worshipping Christ. They are walking in the footsteps of great martyrs of the tradition, from Stephen, Peter, and Paul to Charles Lwanga and Edith Stein.
It takes courage to say, “yes” to living in the presence of Christ. And yet, the promise Jesus gives is that the Holy Spirit will provide us with the wisdom and courage it takes to speak up in the struggle for justice and peace.
As Jesus explains, persecution, though terrible, should not be seen a catastrophe, but as an opportunity to bear testimony about Him.
But how do we accomplish this?
Faced with the cross, Jesus’ response was to pray and to once more place Himself in the hands of the Father. When we’re faced with life’s troubles, that’s what we need to be doing. Christ’s love for us remains constant, and so we have nothing to worry about. Trust in the truth that nothing can separate us from the love of Christ.
And pray – pray for our persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ that they may have the courage to endure, no matter the cost.