Wednesday, November 26 ~ Thirty-Fourth Week in Ordinary Time

Holy Gospel: Luke 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.”

Meditation: If the gospel message is good news, then why do so many oppose it with hostility and even violence? Jesus warns his followers that they will be confronted with persecution, wickedness, false teaching, and temptation. The real enemy of the Gospel is Satan who uses fear and hatred to provoke hostility in others towards those who follow Christ. And what is Jesus’ response to this hostility and opposition?  Love and truth. Only love can defeat prejudice, intolerance, and hatred. God’s love purifies our hearts and minds of all that would divide and tear people apart. The truth is also essential for overcoming evil and tribulation in the world. Satan deceives and sin blinds the heart and mind. Only God’s truth can free us from error and spiritual blindness. This Gospel is God’s word of truth and salvation. That is why Jesus tells his disciples to proclaim the Gospel throughout the whole world, even in the midst of opposition and persecution.

Prayer: Stir up the will of your faithful, we pray, O Lord, that striving more eagerly to bring your divine work to fruitful completion, they may receive in greater measure the healing remedies your kindness bestows. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Contemplation: The word martyr in Greek means witness.  The Book of Revelation says that “Jesus was the faithful witness …who freed us from our sins by his blood” (Rev. 1:5). Tertullian, a second century convert who saw the early Christians singing as they went out to die by the hands of their persecutors, said: “The blood of the martyrs is seed.” Their blood is the seed of new Christians, the seed of the church. The third century bishop, Cyprian said: “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.” True martyrs live and die as witnesses of the gospel.  They overcome their enemies through persevering hope and courage, sacrificial love and forbearance, kindness and compassion. God may call some of us to be martyrs for our faith. But for most of us, our call is to be ‘dry’ martyrs who bear testimony to the joy and power of the gospel in the midst of daily challenges, contradictions, temptations and adversities which come our way as we follow the Lord.  What most attracts others to the truth and power of the gospel?  When they see Christians loving their enemies, being joyful in suffering, patient in adversity, pardoning injuries, and showing comfort and compassion to the hopeless and the helpless. Jesus tells us that we do not need to fear our adversaries. God will give us sufficient grace, strength, and wisdom to face any trial and to answer any challenge to our faith.  Are you eager to bear witness to the joy and freedom of the Gospel? At all times?