Luke 21:12-19 (Reflection)

Last Nov 22, Philippines was one of the countries which joined the the global gesture of solidarity for all persecuted Christians. The Red Wednesday campaign was started last year by Aid to the Church in Need United Kingdom. During the said inter-religious event, England’s famous monuments were lit up in red including the Palace and Cathedral of Westminster among others. These practices were replicated in other parts of the world including our country. Pope Francis during last year’s Feast of St. Stephen said “The martyrs of today are greater in number than those of the first centuries. How many of our brothers and sisters in faith suffer abuse, violence, and are hated for Jesus’ sake! Today, this happens before the whole world, with the complicit silence of many powerful leaders who could stop it.” Persecution can be direct or indirect. Directly, worldly power and authority suppresses the practice of the Christian faith through many forms of expression, including torture and death. Indirectly, worldly values and criticisms compel Christians to abandon the practice of the faith. Where direct persecution is the most common, indirect persecution occurs every day in almost all areas of human life. In today’s Gospel reading, Luke continues his theme from the day before in addressing the persecution in the early Church.  In fact, the language that Luke uses is quite disturbing since he describes that one who embraces Jesus will be hated and subjected to pain and perhaps even killed.  Further, he states that a Christian could be handed over even by relatives, friends, parents, and siblings.  This is indeed an alarming warning that Luke is passing on to the early Christian Community. What is today’s Gospel calling us to do?  It is an invitation to pray for our Christian brothers and sisters around the world who to this very day are facing persecution.  The question, however, is: Do we let it become a witness value for us? We need to reflect about how willing we are to live our lives more fully as Christians.   Certainly in the first world and in the developing nations there is such a growing secularism that forces so many Christians and other religious people to privatize their faith lives.  That is, to make their faith more of a private matter in the home or at Church and to never let their beliefs lead them to act at work or in the larger community.  That has led people, perhaps including you, to be so reluctant to address communal issues from a Christian perspective.  For an example, do you have the courage to speak out against injustices and immoral actions?   We are being called to be more assertive in living out our faith. In today’s Gospel, Jesus offers to give us the wisdom to speak and to address our adversaries or those who may reject us due to our faith.   We should be consoled by that promise!  In fact, the real message is this:  that God will always be there for us.  Now on our part, we need to decide if we can place such trust in God in whatever situation we are!