Reading (Revelation 15:1-4) Gospel (St. Luke 21:12-19)
The words we hear in the Gospel reading today are words that, for most of us, do not sound particularly pleasant: that we are going to be handed over to synagogues and prisons, that we will be brought before governors, all in order to give testimony to the Name of the Lord. The Lord tells us that we will be persecuted and that some will be handed over to death. Most of us, again, when we think about being followers of the Lord, have this unfortunate idea which has been put forth by non-Catholic Christians that as long as we believe in Jesus there will not be any suffering. “Jesus just loves us and He did all the suffering for us, therefore, if we are suffering we must have done something wrong, we must be sinning, God must be angry at us.” Well, the Lord makes very clear it is just the opposite. If we are going to be persecuted and even put to death, it is to be able to give witness on behalf of the Name of the Lord – just the opposite of what is being preached by so many. It is seen, in essence, as the fruit of the faithfulness that we have toward the Lord.
It is necessary then that the Faith has to be persecuted. That is the way it grows. That is the way it becomes rock solid within each one of us. We do not know how strong our faith is until the time comes when it is going to be tested. And the way it is going to be tested more clearly than in any other is when it is going to be persecuted.
It does not sound too pleasant until you read the first reading today. We hear about all these people who were standing on the sea of glass having won the victory over the beast and its name. These people were holding the harps that God had given them and they were singing a new song. We see, then, that what happens is for a short time there may be persecution, there may even be death in some cases, but that is for an eternity of glory with God to be able to sing a new song to the Lord, which the psalmist so often proclaims: that we are called to the glory of God. That begins here, not only by living the Faith, but by giving witness to that Faith. Then the fruit of that witness is going to found in an eternity with God. And so if we are faithful to His Name, He tells us that He will write His Name on our foreheads so that we will be safe from the everlasting death.
So what we need to do is be faithful to Him now and, no matter what happens to remain faithful to His Name, knowing that these persecutions are a necessity. The Church thrives under persecution because it is then that the Faith is the strongest. When it is too easy to be a Catholic, it starts to slip. We do not care anymore what the Church really teaches because we want to fit in with the world, after all. And so things start to get sloppy. But when the Faith is being persecuted, it is then that those who are truly going to be faithful are going to dig their heels in and they will remain faithful to the Lord’s Name in its fullness – even to the point of death, if that is what is required – and all of that so that we will receive the new name, the Lord’s Name, placed upon each one of us where we will then be welcomed into eternity where we will glorify God in the Name of Jesus Christ for eternity.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording with minimal editing.