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When the Trial Comes
Friday of the Fourteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Jesus said to his Apostles: “Behold, I am sending you like sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and simple as doves. But beware of men, 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, I thank you for this moment of quiet prayer. Draw me close to your heart, and inflame my heart with faith, hope, and charity. Help me to see what you want me to see, and hear what you want me to hear, in this moment of prayer. Stir up the Holy Spirit in me, Lord Jesus!
- Shrewd as Serpents, Simple as Doves:At times, the world certainly seems as though it is entirely opposed to the Church and deaf to the Gospel message. While this may not always be the case, Christ exhorts us to be prudent and discerning (“shrewd as serpents”) in our dealings with the secular world. We need to be armed, but with what? Jesus tells us that childlike simplicity, being “simple as doves,” will keep us safe from the world’s wolves. This simplicity requires strong faith and docility so that we are able to submit to what God has asked of us, placing ourselves in the capable arms of the Father.
- Wisdom of the Spirit:Christ promised his disciples that when they were persecuted and questioned about their faith, the Spirit of God would speak through them. He promises the same to us, today. This doesn’t mean, however, that we shouldn’t prepare ourselves through study and prayer. Indeed, the most effective preparation we can make for ourselves is prayer, where we first encounter and come to know the voice of the Holy Spirit dwelling within us. It is from this encounter that we are able to draw the strength and wisdom of the Spirit to defend our faith in the public square.
- Whoever Endures “to the End”: This phrase of Jesus sounds a bit strange. Is he saying that if we just white-knuckle through life’s trials, we’ll make it to Heaven? The Greek word for end, telos, provides us with a different view of what Jesus means here. The common meaning of the word telos refers to the finish line in a race. Here we are immediately reminded of St. Paul’s words to the Corinthians about running the race so as to win. We are not exhorted to perseverance merely to push ourselves for suffering’s sake; rather, Christ wants us to endure life’s trials as he did, relying on his grace so that he can bring us to where he is in heaven.
Conversing with Christ: Lord, it sometimes feels like the world is growing ever more hostile to your message. Help me fan the flame of the Holy Spirit that I received in baptism so that through me you may melt frozen hearts! I know difficulties will come, Lord. I trust in you. Forgive me when I lack trust, and allow me to cling even more strongly to you.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will recite the simple prayer “Jesus, I trust in you” when I experience a moment of difficulty.
For Further Reflection: Read about Sister Faustina, a mystic of Divine Mercy.
Written by Br. Brian Flanagan, LC.