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(Part 11)


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.

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