Wednesday of the Thirty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time – Nov 23rd, 2022 – Lk 21:12-19
Today’s Gospel continues Jesus’ discourse regarding the end times, and warns us of future persecutions. Just like all of the Gospel readings this week, Jesus reminds us not to lose faith during difficult times. We can see three concrete helps for us [as religious] at three different moments in today’s readings.
First, Jesus links persecution with the opportunity to bear witness to the faith, as He says, “They will have you led before kings and governors because of my name. . . . It will lead to your giving testimony.” The Greek words Luke uses here for “witness” is μαρτύριον [marturion] which is the root for our word martyr. We can recall how persecution has always been an opportunity to bear witness to the faith: for instance, we have the example of St. Paul before Agrippa, Bernice, and the Roman emperor (cf. Acts 25), Saint Charles Lwanga and his companions before King Mwanga, and many others.
Secondly, the knowledge that God imparts on His followers during persecution parallels the special knowledge that Daniel had of the writing on the wall. Here we are reminded of the need to be humble, since it is only by fully trusting and humbly submitting to God that we will follow the inspirations of the Holy Spirit. We can see this, for instance, in the life of Saint Joan of Arc. Once arrested and put on trial, Joan, who was illiterate and not more than 20 years old, answered her adversaries with such skill and knowledge that the trial dragged on for days and her opponents constantly found themselves asking where she got such knowledge. God, too, will provide us with the most effective words or deeds, if only we will listen.
Thirdly, today’s Gospel ends with the sentence: “By your perseverance you will secure your lives.” Other translations read “It is by patience that you will secure possession of your souls.” Saint Gregory tells us that when we are patient, we truly come to possess our souls because we are in control. Recall that the word patience comes from the Latin pati, meaning, to suffer. When we suffer and yet bear no ill feeling towards the one who makes us suffer, we come to possess our souls and, in possessing them, are able to give ourselves entirely to others. As the Imitation of Christ reminds us, “Without struggle you cannot obtain the crown of patience, and if you refuse to suffer you are refusing the crown. But if you desire to be crowned, fight bravely and bear up patiently.”
As we strive to bear witness to the Gospel, to humbly submit to God, and to patiently endure sufferings, let us pray, through the intercession of Mary, Mother of All Religious, and Saint Columban, Saint Clement I, and Blessed Miguel Agustin Pro, for the grace to truly trust that our heavenly Father loves us, and watches over our fight on this earth.