Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Trust in the Wisdom of the Lord

By Colleen O’Sullivan
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.  (Luke 21:12-15)

O Lord, may I ever be firmly rooted in you, not relying on my own strength, but trusting in your wisdom and guidance.

Several years ago the Memorial of Saint Andrew Dung-Lac, priest and martyr, and his companions, martyrs (Nov. 24) fell on a Wednesday, which is my day to write the Daily Tripod.  I hadn’t been writing these meditations for very long and I had never heard of St. Andrew Dung-Lac.  So I went to work researching his life and death and, in short order, realized I knew nothing about the history of Vietnam before the 1950’s, either.  I had no idea that Vietnam originally comprised three separate kingdoms or that there had been a great deal of Catholic missionary work going on there for centuries.  It made for fascinating reading.

Reading about the life, torture and execution of this one priest, St. Andrew Dung-Lac, and about the estimated 130,000+ Christians in Vietnam who between 1625 and 1886 gave their lives for their faith set me to thinking seriously about how deep my own faith goes and whether or not I would have the courage or be willing to give up my life for Jesus.  I worried about this off and on for a couple of years.

It took me a lot of praying to come to the realization that I was all wrong in my thinking.  Jesus tells us in today’s Gospel reading that we don’t have to worry about what we will say or do in the face of persecution (or any of a whole host of other adversities we may face in life).  Just keep our focus on Jesus.  Keep our eyes and ears and hearts open to his voice and his presence, and he will take care of the rest.  We don’t have to dredge up a whole lot of courage on our own for facing our enemies.  If we are rooted in Christ, he will supply the strength we need to do the right thing and the words to say to those who question us.  And that holds true for a lot more that we encounter in life than just religious persecution.

The key is to make Jesus the center of your life.  As we come to the end of this liturgical year, what are the things that distract you, that cause you to lose your focus?  Where else have you put down roots other than in the Life-giving Vine?  As we look ahead to Advent, there is no better time to give up the things that come between us and God.

Take a few minutes today and pray for all the Christians around the world who are being persecuted and martyred for their faith.

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