Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Hated But Not Destroyed

Hated But Not Destroyed

November 28, 2012
Wednesday of the Thirty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time

By Colleen O'Sullivan

Then I saw something like a sea of glass mingled with fire.  On the sea of glass were standing those who had won the victory over the beast and its image and the number that signified its name.  They were holding God’s harps, and they sang the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb.  (Rev. 15:2-3a)

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.”  (Luke 21:12-19) 


Nothing is more practical than finding God, that is, than falling in love in a quite absolute, final way.  What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination will affect everything.  It will decide what will get you out of bed in the mornings, what you will do with your evenings, how you spend your weekends, what you read, who you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude.  Fall in love, stay in love, and it will decide everything.  (Falling in Love, attributed to Fr. Pedro Arrupe, S.J.)


Admittedly I don’t spend a lot of time pondering this, but whenever I have considered for what or for whom I would give my life, I always end up with the same answer – loved ones.  And as Fr. Arrupe points out in “Falling in Love,” isn’t God our first and primary Loved One? 

Most of us will probably not die martyrs’ deaths.  But Jesus is right that if we follow him, someone somewhere along the line is going to persecute us because of his name.  Many in the world (and the number seems to grow daily) don’t believe in God.  Some of these non-believers are merely apathetic, but others seem to find God a threat.  Personally, I see that as a testimony to the power of God; otherwise, why all the fuss and bother?  I imagine most of these people worship one or more of the gods of our culture – wealth, greed, pleasure, power – and find a God who turns those values upside down at least a nuisance, and at worst an enemy to their way of life.

There’s always someone who would like to chip away at our faith and knock God off his pedestal.  It might be our friends wanting us to make weekend plans that don’t include time for worship.  When I’ve been in that situation and have brought up the fact that I am going to go to church on Sunday, I’ve been told that that’s what they don’t like about Catholics.  They “have to go to church on Sunday.”  I don’t look at it as something I have to do as much as something I want to do.  So, putting God first might cost you a friendship or two.

I had one family member get bent out of shape several years ago because I wouldn’t agree to observe Good Friday on a different day so as not to interfere with their plans to have guests for dinner and serve a roast.  In spite of the ranting and raving, I didn’t give in.  Putting your faith and religious practices first might cause family discord. 

Sometimes persecution is far more serious and deadly.  Throughout the centuries there have been many Christian martyrs.  The people playing harps and singing the Lord’s praises in our first reading from the Book of Revelation were most likely men and women who refused to worship the Roman emperor.  The cost of faithfulness might be your very life.  The fact that in heaven they are singing God’s praises illustrates Jesus’ promise that though we may be hated in this world, not even a hair on our heads will be harmed.  Our willingness to die small deaths on a daily basis or to give our lives in death for the Lord, is what secures our lives in an eternal sense.  And isn’t that what our journey with Christ is all about, dying with him that we might live with him?  (Romans 6:8)


For what or for whom would you be willing to die?  When have you felt attacked or persecuted for your faith?  Did Jesus give you the words or strength to resist your opponent?

When you have time today, pray for forgiveness for the times you have been weak and acquiesced in the face of pressure to worship other gods.  Ask God for the strength to persevere along the journey.

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