Coming Persecutions

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Friday of the Fourteenth Week in Ordinary Time


Matthew 10:16-23 

“Behold, I am sending you like sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and simple as doves. But beware of people, for they will hand you over to courts and scourge you in their synagogues, and you will be led before governors and kings for my sake as a witness before them and the pagans. When they hand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say. You will be given at that moment what you are to say. For it will not be you who speak but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. Brother will hand over brother to death, and the father his child; children will rise up against parents and have them put to death. You will be hated by all because of my name, but whoever endures to the end will be saved. When they persecute you in one town, flee to another. Amen, I say to you, you will not finish the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.”


Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, grant me courage to be a witness for others so that they may come to know, love, and follow you.


Encountering Christ:


  1. The Challenge of Following Jesus: Jesus’s words in this Gospel do not seem very encouraging. Who wants to be a sheep among wolves, handed over to pagans, or put to death by one’s own relative?! Jesus’s use of imagery speaks prophetically to all who wish to follow him in spirit and truth. Living one’s deepest convictions requires both humility and courage. Humility is needed to follow Jesus, so that we follow him without pharisaical self-righteousness, condemning all who do not seem to be following Jesus according to our personal standards. Courage is needed to maintain the course of one’s convictions, always discerning what is implied to obey the Lord’s call in my day-to-day circumstance as a disciple of Christ. 
  2. Sent: With our baptism, and especially with the seal of confirmation, we are sent as disciples into the world. Our identity as Jesus’s disciples is one that matures as we discover the heart of Jesus. While we go as innocent sheep among the wolves, we are not sent without resources. Our resource is the Lord himself who accompanies us with his Eucharist, his grace, his Spirit. How often do we turn to him in trust when we are faced with an opportunity to witness in word or deed? How often do we recognize that we are “sent” to a world in need of Jesus’s message of repentance, forgiveness, mercy, and love?
  3. The Wolves: What and who are the wolves in our lives? The secularity of culture that drowns out God’s voice? The media when it creates anxiety, fear, and despair over disunity among peoples? The voice of ridicule among friends or family that do not see the purpose of a relationship with God? Where we find wolves, we also find wounds. One who is injured interiorly lashes out without understanding and persecutes those who want to do good to them. Are we capable of seeing beyond the wolf to the wound? The Lord calls us to be a witness in whatever circumstance we find ourselves. We can always try to bring balm to the wounded. But if we are rejected, the Lord invites us to look for those who will receive him. We leave the closed, wounded wolves to the mercy of God. 


Conversing with Christ: Lord Jesus, I want to participate in building your kingdom by my witness of love for you. Send me your Spirit to guide my thoughts, words, and actions so that I may truly be balm among the “wolves” of this world. 


Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will intentionally pray for people in my life who are far from you, asking the Holy Spirit to open their hearts.

For Further Reflection: What Discipleship Relationships Look Like and Why Catholics Aren’t Doing It Enough.


Written by Jennifer Ristine.

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