Gospel - November 26, 2014

LK 21:12-19

Jesus said to the crowd: “They will arrest you and persecute you; they will hand you over to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors because of my name.

“This will give you an opportunity to testify. So make up your minds not to prepare your defense in advance; for I will give you words and a wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to withstand or contradict.

“You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, by 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 of your head will perish. By your endurance you will secure your lives.

New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright 1989, 1993, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Approved by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Reflection - November 26, 2014

In today’s Gospel, Jesus warns his followers of imminent persecution. On one level this admonishment is directed toward the members of the early church who practiced their religion as outlaws within the Roman empire during the first three centuries. Indeed, the trials and tribulations that Jesus describes became realities for Christians in the years following his death. However, there is also a sense of timelessness to this passage that extends even to present day.

Since 2003 the Christian population of Iraq has shrunk from 1.5 million to 300,000, due to religious persecution. Threats and attacks of terror by Muslim extremists have caused Christian Iraqis to make a choice between their religious beliefs and their homeland. What’s truly amazing is how many individuals have chosen to not abandon their religious identity and have continued to walk with Christ wherever the road may lead. Just imagine someone making you choose between either going to Mass every week or abandoning the comforts and routines of everyday life.

My local parish has teamed up with other churches in the city to receive displaced Iraqis within our community. But even this process will take roughly two years to complete because of legal processing delays. As one body in Christ, we must not take our own religious freedom for granted and forget about our fellow Christians who are still fighting for this privilege.

Finally, we may wonder in today’s Gospel reading why Christ instructs his followers on trial “not to prepare your defense beforehand.” The point here is not that religious conviction is incompatible with rational justification or a reasonable defense. Rather, quite the opposite—it is religious persecution that is incompatible with rational justification. Thus, it is futile to construct a logical defense of one’s beliefs when placed on trial and the prosecution is working beyond the bounds of reason. The best we can do is have faith in the Lord and remain perseverant throughout.

Eric Chitambar ‘05


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Prayer - November 26, 2014

Lord God, we ask that our love for you strengthen us to endure all hardships, all persecutions, all betrayals and acts of hatred. May our love for you strengthen us to live in peace, knowing that in troubled times our words are yours and your wisdom ours.

Brother Robert E. Sylvester, C.S.C.

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