HOPE IN THE MIDST OF PERSECUTION

“I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict… you will be hated by all for my name’s sake but not a hair of your head will perish.” (Luke 21:15-18)

I once read somewhere: “Be grateful for your troublesome landlord; if not for his trouble, you would never have been able to build your own house today.” Be grateful for your enemies because they put you on your toes and eventually bring out the best in you. When someone is bent on pulling you down, you only become elevated in the end.

As a little kid, there was a short fence separating our house from the next apartment. I never knew I could jump that fence until I was chased by an angry hen for disturbing one of its chicks. Later on, I tried several times to jump that same fence but I could not. That experience taught me a wonderful lesson: that from our most painful situations, we could tap into extraordinary powers we possess within us.

This was exactly the message John was passing on to his audience in the book of Revelations. The sea of glass mingled with fire represents the torture, the pains, the hardships, the sacrifices, the sweats, the tears and blood of Christians who were being slaughtered under the reign of Emperor Diocletian (the beast). John assures them of eventual redemption and glory if only they remained steadfast in the faith.

The experience of the persecuted Christians was indeed a fulfilment of the words of Jesus in our Gospel passage when he noted: “They will seize and persecute you, they will hand you over to the synagogues and to prisons…. 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.”

Dear friends, consider yourself lucky if people hate you because of your Christian Faith and you desire to walk as a child of the light. Consider yourself lucky because your sufferings for Christ’s sake will surely yield great fruits for you in the end. In the words of Jesus, “not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance, you will gain your lives.” (Luke 21:19).

Are you being persecuted? Never return hatred for hatred; do not let hatred so fill your mind that you become like the devil you are fighting against. Jesus says: “turn the other cheek, love your enemies, wish good to those who wish you evil, pray God’s blessings over those who hurt you.” Remember what the book of Proverbs says: “If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink; for you will heap coals of fire on his head, and the LORD will reward you.” (Proverbs 25:21-22). This is how you get elevated despite any attempt to pull you down. Trust Jesus, not a hair on your head will perish.

Let us pray: Lord Jesus, please empower me with the grace to endure to the very end. Amen.

Bible Study: Revelation 15:1-4, Psalm 98:1-9 and Luke 21:12-19).

Fr. Abu

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