REFLECTION FOR TODAY
November 24, 2021
By Fr. Andrew Ibegbulem, OSA
“Remember, you are not to prepare your defense beforehand, for I myself shall give you a wisdom in speaking that all your adversaries will be powerless to resist or refute.” Lk. 21:14-15
The disciples of Jesus will be persecuted, even by their own family, yet not even a hair on their head will be harmed. Their patient endurance will their lives be saved. Jesus makes it clear from our gospel reference above, that His followers will be persecuted. He told them this to prepare them. Persecution is inevitable in our lives as Christians.
How do we feel with the awareness that being a Christian entails persecution and hardship? it may be discouraging and fearful, but these are opportunity for us to give witness and testimony to our faith ad conviction. Giving “testimony” especially means we are to be a witness to Christ. One of the best ways such witness is fulfilled is through the various forms of martyrdom.
To be a martyr is to be a witness. And those who suffer persecution for the sake of Christ, and then respond to that persecution in accord with the wisdom and inspiration of Jesus, are true martyrs. It’s helpful to note that if one is persecuted and responds with anger or returns the violence in accord with their own irrational will, then they are no martyr. They simply become what they have received. They become angry and bitter people. Being a martyr requires both unjust treatment and a response to that mistreatment in accord with God’s will. For that reason, though persecution is never initiated by God, it does offer the Christian an opportunity to deeply conform themself to Christ by responding as He dictates.
Jesus did not promise us a comfortable life, he rather offers to us something greater. He advises us to have no defense prepared ahead of any persecution. This because there is great temptation of irrational defense rather, we should depend on and surrender to him for the wisdom we need during those times of persecution.
Responding to persecution in accord with the will of God requires great attentiveness to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, great humility, and unwavering charity directed at the one doing the persecution. Therefore, Jesus makes the promise that He will be with you in such situations and will give you “a wisdom in speaking that all your adversaries will be powerless to resist or refute.” What a grace! But this grace is only available to those who rely completely upon Christ, and not upon their own disordered passions and emotions.
Reflect, today, upon this promise from Jesus. Some will encounter little persecution in their lives at various times. But others will encounter severe persecution in various ways, even from their family. Reflect upon any ways that you have experienced the unjust treatment of another and then reflect upon your response. Were you able to immediately forgive? Were you able to set aside your anger, wounded pride, and desire for revenge? Were you able to keep your eyes on Christ and rejoice that you have been found worthy to share in the ridicule, persecutions, and sufferings that Jesus endured? Pray that you will always be open to the grace of this promise of Jesus so that you will always respond to everyone in accord with the wisdom of God.
Lord, though You were perfect in every way, You endured much cruelty in Your earthly life. The injustice You endured is beyond our comprehension. But Your response to such persecution was perfect. You were able to transform all ill-treatment into grace and mercy, offered especially for those who mistreated You. Give me the grace I need to imitate Your perfect response and to always rely upon Your wisdom and guidance alone. Jesus, I trust in You.