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(Part 98)


November 26, 2014

Today’s readings:
Revelation 15:1-4
Psalm 98:1-9
Luke 21:12-19

There will always be persecution of Christians in the world. Why? Because a world under the dominion of the evil one is antagonistic to true Christians. “You will be hated by all because of my name” (Lk 21:17). At times it will be severe. The diabolical powers-that-be “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.” (Lk 21:12). And sadly, even those closest to us will participate in the persecution. “You will even be handed over by parents, brothers, relatives, and friends, and they will put some of you to death.” (Lk 21:16). Our Christian lifestyle and choices are an indictment on those who live worldly lives, and they will not tolerate that.

Given such a dire scenario, we need to be encouraged to persevere. This is why God gave John a vision of heaven. “Then I saw in heaven another sign, great and awe-inspiring” (Rv 15:1a). We see that God’s fury and punishment will be upon the sinners (Rv 15:1b). We would not want to be one among them. But more importantly and positively, we see the victory of the elect. We see “something like a sea of glass mingled with fire” (Rv 15:2a). The fire symbolizes the holiness involved in facing God, reflected in the trials that have prepared these victorious Christians. “On the sea of glass were standing those who had won the victory over the beast” (Rv 15:2b). We hope to be one among them.

Now persecution is not all bad, because it is an opportunity to witness. “It will lead to your giving testimony.” (Lk 21:13). We will have to explain why we do what we do and say what we say. As such, we will end up proclaiming Christ and his salvation.

This is our work of evangelization. This is our proclamation of the good news of salvation in Jesus to the ends of the earth. What do we aspire to in trying to do massive work? We want the gospel to be proclaimed to everyone. “All the ends of the earth have seen the victory of our God.” (Ps 98:3b). Then we look to their response: “All the nations will come and worship before you” (Rv 15:4c).

Because Jesus sends us, because we do the work of the Kingdom, the Holy Spirit will provide. He will give us “wisdom in speaking” (Lk 21:15). He sends us into battle but has already provided the victory. “His right hand and holy arm have won the victory.” (Ps 98:1b). He will accompany us, so that “not a hair on your head will be destroyed.” (Lk 21:18). And even if we were to have to give up our lives for the cause of Christ, that actually would be our way to heaven. With our eyes fixed on Jesus, we remain steadfast in our faith and endure the suffering. “By your perseverance you will secure your lives.” (Lk 21:19).

What great joy then is there in this work of evangelization! Such is the joy of the gospel (Evangelii Gaudium). And we want more and more people, in fact the whole world, to share in that joy. “Shout with joy to the Lord, all the earth” (Ps 98:4a). So what are you waiting for? Go and evangelize, and so “break into song; sing praise. Sing praise to the Lord with the lyre, with the lyre and melodious song. With trumpets and the sound of the horn shout with joy to the King, the Lord.” (Ps 98:4b-6).

We are in the end times. We need to do the necessary work of evangelization, “before the Lord who comes, who comes to govern the earth” (Ps 98:9a).

So are you among those who are “holding God’s harps” (Rv 15:2c)?

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