In today’s Gospel reading, Luke continues his theme from the day before in addressing the persecution in the early Church. In fact, the language that Luke uses is quite disturbing since he describes that one who embraces Jesus will be hated and subjected to pain and perhaps even killed. Further, he states that a Christian could be handed over even by relatives, friends, parents, and siblings. This is indeed an alarming warning that Luke is passing on to the early Christian Community.
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!
By Timothy Lannon