“See, I am sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. 17 Beware of them, for they will hand you over to councils and flog you in their synagogues; 18 and you will be dragged before governors and kings because of me, as a testimony to them and the Gentiles. 19 When they hand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given to you at that time; 20 for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. 21 Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death; 22 and you will be hated by all because of my name. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. 23 When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next; for truly I tell you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes”.-Matthew 10:16-23 NRSV
The Coming Persecution
The Gospel reading from today’s Mass says a lot. It shows us that following Christ will not be something that is easy. Contrary to what the prosperity gospel teaches these words of Christ warn us of persecutions. Isn’t following Christ supposed to be easy? Some would have us think that, but they are wrong. The early church is filled with stories of people losing everything, even their lives, for their faith in Christ.
Contrary to what some may think this isn’t a phenomenon that is relegated to history. Christianity is the most persecuted religion in the world. Sadly there are also more cases of martyrdom now than at any other point in history. It seems to be mainstream one has to persecute.
Is There Good News?
Whenever persecution is discussed people seem to get down. I’m not saying one should jump up and down with glee, but there is good news. People persecute what they don’t understand. This is exactly what they did to our Lord. If people are making fun of you because of your faith then you are being a great witness to Christ. In a way you are sharing in his suffering and being further united with him. That is great news! To be further united with Christ is to be one step closer to Heaven. That is the ultimate goal isn’t it? To face harsh treatment for the sake of Christ is an honor.
Example of St. Paul
St. Paul serves as a good example of the good that can come about from suffering for Christ. He sought out on horseback to persecute Christians and had his Damascus road experience. His life was radically changed and sought to spread the Gospel throughout Gentile lands. He was shipwrecked, whipped, imprisoned, and ultimately suffered martyrdom in Rome. He wrote his second letter to Timothy while in prison and he knew what his fate was going to be. Yet he wrote that through it all the Gospel was not imprisoned.
When bad things happen it is hard to see the good that can come from it. When we suffer something for God we can take solace that we are doing something right. In today’s Gospel our Lord tells us to endure to the end and we will saved. When these times come look to Christ, pray, go to Mass, and confide in someone you trust. You are not alone in the fight to live the Christian life. The evil one will try to say you are and will try to tell you that you are all alone. Lies, lies, and more lies. You are not alone. Christ is with you and so are we.