Wednesday, 34th Week in Ordinary Time     

            “They will seize and persecute you… because of my name.”

            Jesus, in today’s gospel, talks about persecution entailed in following him. His followers are going to be mistreated and persecuted. But this must be an opportunity to bear witness to the Lord’s teaching.

            Persecution for us often takes various and sometimes subtle forms. It may be something like being excluded from a social group or being ridiculed or made fun of by friends and family. It might consist of being ostracized by neighbors or being heckled by officemates or being demoted at work when we try to stand up for our beliefs and principles.

            We must realize this: If the mission of Jesus is also our mission, the price of it will also be ours. If he was hated and rejected, maltreated and persecuted, crucified and put to death… expect to suffer the same fate if we are serious in following Jesus and proclaiming his Gospel of truth and justice, of mercy and compassion, of life and love. However, as Jesus keeps telling us, we must not be afraid to go through this. Why? Because we are in good hands. Jesus tells us, “You will be hated by all because of my name, but not a hair on your head will be destroyed.”

            We must allow Jesus to come into the center of our lives. Is Jesus just an abstract idea to us? Do we only know him intellectually? Does he remain remote from our daily experience? If so, we will not be able to withstand persecution. Only a deep experience of Jesus and a personal knowledge of his personal love for us can enable us to stand with him in the face of persecution.

            Somebody said: “People are unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered. Love them anyway. If you do good, some will accuse you of selfish motives. Do good anyway. The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway. Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable. Be honest anyway.” This is the kind of faithfulness and perseverance the Lord expects from us, his followers. Jesus says, “By your perseverance you will secure your lives.” Let us hold on to this promise.

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