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FROM THE SERVANT GENERAL
 

FROM THE SERVANT GENERAL

OUR THEME FOR 2020
(Part 11)

LED BEFORE KINGS


November 27, 2019
Today’s gospel: Luke 21:12-19


Because we are founded on Rock, we can expect both to be persecuted and protected. This is for those who live an active faith in Jesus and especially for those who proclaim the gospel of salvation in him. In living and sharing Christ, we face a dark and sinful world that has no tolerance for the gospel, and that will do everything to mute our voices. But it is Jesus himself who sends us forth, and so will be with us as protector and provider.

Jesus talks about persecution, which is already with us, just as the signs of the end are already evident. Jesus says, “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.” (v.12). Let us not talk about persecution of Christians by radical Islamists, which is a given. Rather, let us look at persecution in Christian nations themselves. Pro-life activists are physically assaulted, are brought to court for not catering to homosexual activists, are fired for not participating in abortions, are arrested for doing peaceful counseling or prayer at abortion clinics, and so on.

Jesus talks about conflict among close family members and friends. “You will even be handed over by parents, brothers, relatives, and friends, and they will put some of you to death.” (v.16). Let us not talk about those Muslims who kill their own relatives if they convert to Christianity. Rather, let us look at how families especially in the Western world have been torn apart, with the divide being between those who support the culture of death and those who support the culture of life. Throughout the history of the Church, and today in some parts of the world such as the Middle East, some Christians are still being put to death just because of their faith. This is not yet happening in the Western world, but it will be the natural consequence of an intolerant left that wants to eradicate the Christian faith. This happened in Mexico from 1926 to 1929 when the state imposed secularism and atheism, with the emphasis on being anti-Catholic and anti-clerical. Many priests and lay Catholics were murdered by the state.

Jesus talks about being objects of hatred by all. “You will be hated by all because of my name” (v.17). Let us not talk about radical Islamists who want all infidels (read: Christians) to be enslaved or killed. Rather, let us look at how the Western world, while still calling itself Christian, are oppressing and persecuting authentic Christians. Laws are passed to suppress the faith, and to promote acts totally contrary to the Christian faith, such as abortion and active homosexuality. Look at how leftist radicals are attacking, destroying and burning churches in largely Catholic Latin America.

So expect to be persecuted if you actually live your faith. But there is a bright side. “It will lead to your giving testimony.” (v.13). To testify is to be a witness. That actually is our call. Unfortunately, too many Christians are lapsed and secularized, hardly giving witness to their faith. But when oppression and persecution come, we will need to make a stand. We either bow to the forces of evil, or we stand for what is right and just and true. If we bow, then we are in effect no longer followers of Christ. Jesus says that whoever is not with him is against him. So we must strongly stand for Jesus. It is persecution that can elicit that in us.

Now the world will persecute us, but Jesus will provide for and protect us. He will give us wisdom with which to refute and confound our adversaries (v.15). Best of all, “not a hair on your head will be destroyed.” (v.18). But will not some of us be physically hurt and even killed? So what does this mean? Jesus had said, “Even the hairs of your head have all been counted. Do not be afraid.” (Lk 12:7a). What it means is that Jesus knows us intimately and cares for us totally, and no one can destroy that bond. Everyone else may hate us, but Jesus will always love us. We may perish in this life, but we will move on to life eternal.

It will not be easy to live under oppression and persecution. But we can look to the grace of God and the strength of the Holy Spirit. We can, we must, endure to the end. “By your perseverance you will secure your lives.” (v.19).

Such will it be for those whose lives are built on Rock.

* * *


 

FROM THE SERVANT GENERAL

OUR THEME FOR 2020
(Part 10)

THE KING OF KINGS


November 26, 2019

Today’s readings:
Daniel 2:31-45
Daniel 3:57-61
Luke 21:5-11


Many kings and kingdoms have arisen throughout human history. Nebuchadnezzar and Babylon were among the more powerful ones. Nebuchadnezzar had a troubling dream, which only Daniel was able to interpret. “You, O king, are the king of kings; to you the God of heaven has given dominion and strength, power and glory” (Dn 2:37). Notice: it is God who gives humans the kingship and their kingdoms.

But these kingdoms eventually fade away. According to Daniel’s interpretation of the dream, there would be succeeding kingdoms­Babylon, then Media, then Persia, then Greece. Then Alexander the Great would partition his kingdom among his generals. All human kingdoms will fade away, but “the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed or delivered up to another people; rather, it shall break in pieces all these kingdoms and put an end to them, and it shall stand forever.” (Dn 2:44).

Throughout history, many other kingdoms have arisen and fallen. The Roman Empire lasted for over 1,000 years. The most powerful nation today, the USA, has been around for just 243 years. But the Kingdom established by God through His Son has lasted for two millennia, and will last until and beyond the end of time. It is founded on the Rock that is Christ. That Rock is “the stone you saw hewn from the mountain without a hand being put to it” (Dn 2:45a). “It shall stand forever.” (Dn 2:44c).

Christ is the foundation of the Church, which is his body on earth. It is made up living stones, which are all of us. But the physical structure of churches will fade away, just as the Jewish temple was destroyed. “All that you see here­the days will come when there will not be left a stone upon another stone that will not be thrown down.” (Lk 21:6). This will happen at the end of time.

As people asked Jesus then, we also ask now, “Teacher, when will this happen? And what sign will there be when all these things are about to happen?” (Lk 21:7). What are the signs of the end?

  • There will be many false prophets who will deceive many (Lk 21:8).
  • There will be wars and insurrections (Lk 21:9-10). There have always been wars throughout human history. But today, wars and insurrections (war within a nation; citizen against citizen) have come to very many countries.
  • There will be many natural calamities (Lk 21:11a).

Tragically, we are missing the signs of the end.

Today, false prophets abound. There are the cults. There are the false religions. But there are also the many so-called Christian groups that are not truly Christian, in their denial of God as Trinity and the centrality of the Eucharist. And among the Christian groups, there are the preachers of false gospels such as the prosperity gospel, the New Age, even Freemasonry. Even in the Catholic Church, there are modernists who are looking more and more to the centrality of man rather than of Christ. Our Church is failing to preach the one true gospel and the uniqueness of the one Church founded by Jesus himself.

Today, people look to the United Nations, or to sub-groupings such as the European Union, to foster peace and unity in the world. All are miserably failing. People are looking for peace, when they do not know the real meaning of peace. Peace can only come in and through the Prince of Peace, who is Jesus. People are looking for unity, for justice, for solidarity. But we can only be truly united under the banner of Christ; there can be justice only under the righteousness of God; there can be solidarity only in the Spirit.

Today, there are many tragic natural calamities, such as earthquakes, famines and plagues. We are experiencing more and more such things as droughts, flooding, landslides, forest fires, etc. Now certainly man has some responsibility, as in our lack of selflessness we pollute the earth and fail in equitable sharing of the world’s goods. But what is the world proclaiming? The false narrative of global warming (a.k.a. climate change), which is blamed for every bad thing that is happening. If what is happening are signs of the end, is not God trying to alert us? We are attacking fossil fuels when we should be attacking sin and immorality. We are looking to making this world a physically better one, when the spiritual rot continues to deepen.

If we recognize the signs of the times, we must realize that we are indeed in the end times. Of course, this is not about making false predictions, like false prophets through the years, who claim, “The time has come.” (Lk 21:8c). In the Lord a day is like a thousand years and a thousand years like a day. It could be another millennium before Christ returns. But we are already in the end times.

What then do we do about it? Follow not the lead of the world. There is only one way to prepare, and that is to build our life, our homes and our Church on the Rock that is Christ. Every day that Jesus delays in returning is an opportunity for us to preach the gospel of salvation in him. We must have a great sense of urgency in doing our mission.

We look not to earthly kings, not to secular governments, not to false prophets, but only to the King of kings. We build our house on Rock. Then let all of creation “praise and exalt him above all forever.” (Dn 3:57-61).

* * *

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