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Suffering and Persecution
Wednesday of the Thirty-Fourth Week in Ordinary Time
Jesus said to the crowd: “They will seize and persecute you, they will hand you over to the synagogues and to prisons, and they will have you led before kings and governors because of my name. It will lead to your giving testimony. 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. You will even be handed over by parents, brothers, relatives, and friends, and they will put some of you to death. You will be hated by all because of my name,
but not a hair on your head will be destroyed. By your perseverance, you will secure your lives.”
Opening Prayer: Lord, I bring before you my pains and difficulties: the hatred I may have felt from others, the pain that others have caused me. I come before you just as I am, knowing that you know me, and gaze on me with love.
- They Will Persecute You: Jesus warned his disciples often about the reality of the hatred and rejection they would receive from the world. In parts of today’s world, many Christians still suffer persecution and put their lives, jobs, or reputations at risk by following Christ. Jesus promised that we would be handed over, hated by all, put to death; he invites us to embrace all suffering, big or small, for love of him. What sufferings have I been slow to accept in my life?
- Giving Testimony. The sufferings of a Christian bear immediate fruit, whether we realize it or not. How often have you heard the story of someone who has suffered greatly, and you realize that their grief is the most powerful witness to the love of God in their lives? Those who suffer, who are tested, often become those who can speak most convincingly about the Gospel. When they believe and hold on to God, the word can no longer be considered naïve or “a crutch.” We become a powerful witness when we embrace suffering and share our experience of Christ in this context.
- Secure Your Lives: Jesus invites us to persevere, to stand strong in the face of difficulty, like a flame that continues burning in the wind. As a result, we will secure our life, our soul, our eternal happiness—the life of our soul, which is our relationship with God. Perseverance means we carry on, even when we’re tired, beat up, or down and discouraged. We can do this only if we let Christ come alongside us to hold us up. When we strive to connect with Christ, to hold on to him more firmly, we are filled with his superhuman strength.
Conversing with Christ: Lord Jesus, you are my strength! I cling to you now in prayer, sure that you never leave me during the day. I place before you my little sufferings and my greater sufferings: all things that you have permitted in my life to make me a better witness to your truth and your love.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will strive to recall in a difficult moment that you are with me, and that you walk me through this suffering out of love. As a result, I will become a better instrument of your love to others.
For Further Reflection: Making Sense Out of Suffering, by Peter Kreeft.
Father Adam Zettel, LC, works as a high school chaplain in Dallas, Texas. He has worked extensively with youth and offers constant pastoral care to families.