Friday 10, 2020
Reading: Hosea 14: 1 -9; Responsorial Psalm: 53; Matthew: 10:16 – 23
What an assignment! Jesus’ disciples are to proclaim to the religious and secular powers of this world the basic message that a new order of things is drawing near. Inevitably, betrayal, persecution, imprisonment and torture will be their lot. Even so, they are to speak out boldly in all simplicity, confident in the Holy Spirit.
If we take a stand for our beliefs we may expect criticism even from our own families or from members of the Christian community. But we are not alone: we are spokespersons of the Spirit when we attend meetings and try to promote Gospel values.
Commitment to Jesus Christ is long-term. In difficult times his help will be there, and our convictions about him may lead to conflict even with those closest to us. We are compared to sheep – these find their way even among wolves if they follow the shepherd. We keep our eye on the Lord who guides our way.
How often Jesus wishes me peace and tells me not to worry! He knows that there are things that weigh me down.
The persecution of Christians has been alive and well throughout the ages. It has happened in every time and in every culture. It continues to be alive today. So what do we do with that? How do we respond?
Jesus teaches the Twelve how to persevere in times of persecution. He warns them that they will meet with hostility and hatred because of him, but they are to continue to bear witness to his values. The ultimate reassurance and promise of the Lord is that the one who endures to the end will be saved.
Just as Jesus was not abandoned by his Father in his hour of need, so too Christian believers are not abandoned in difficulty and persecution. Rather, the Spirit of God will enlighten and strengthen them.
Many Christians can fall into the trap of thinking that Christianity is all about simply “getting along.” It’s easy to believe that if we are loving and kind then everyone will also love us. But that’s not what Jesus said.
There is going to be a clear interval of time ‘before the Son of Man comes’ back. But the followers of Jesus will not be entirely on their own. They will be able to rely on the power of the Holy Spirit – sent by the Father – no matter what troubles come. The disciples will be ‘up against it’ when persecution comes their way; and – like Saint Paul – they will want to give a convincing account of the belief on which they have based their lives. In this predicament particularly, they should rely on the Holy Spirit to be their ‘advocate’ But here the saying of Saint Francis of Assisi could apply : You are always to preach – if necessary, through words (!) : the readiness to give their lives for Jesus, could well be ‘witness’ enough in itself.
And Jesus well knows that hostility, or lack of support, could happen even within one’s intimate circle : he himself was betrayed by one of his own.
Lord, grant me also the courage and strength of your Spirit to persevere and to witness, especially in difficult times.
God bless you. Have a wonderful day.