Wednesday 23 November 2022 – STANDING FRIM IN FAITH

34th Week in Ordinary Time

1st Reading: Rev 15: 1-4

I, John, saw in heaven another sign, great and awe-inspiring: seven angels with the seven last plagues, for through them God’s fury is accomplished. Then I saw something like a sea of glass mingled with fire. On the sea of glass were standing those who had won the victory over the beast and its image and the number that signified its name. They were holding God’s harps, and they sang the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb: “Great and wonderful are your works, Lord God almighty. Just and true are your ways, O king of the nations. Who will not fear you, Lord, or glorify your name? For you alone are holy. All the nations will come and worship before you, for your righteous acts have been revealed.”      

Gospel: Lk 21:12-19

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.”

STANDING FRIM IN FAITH: Pope Francis while celebrating Mass on November 02, 2019 in the catacomb of St. Priscila said, “Today there are Christians who are persecuted, more than in the first centuries”. It was in the catacombs that the first Christians buried their dead and celebrated the Eucharist when public celebration was forbidden. Jesus says that his followers will be persecuted because of his name by the adversaries of the gospel and even those close to them. Today too the freedom of belief is denied and the persecution against Christians continue to occur. Jesus assures us that he will be with us who suffer persecution and will provide wisdom to defend ourselves against the enemies. On the other hand, those who live in relatively tolerant countries, have the responsibility to express their solidarity with those who suffer. Let us engage in prayer and advocacy on behalf of those who suffer.

Prayer: We pray that those who are persecuted might experience the presence of Christ within them and bear witness to the gospel.

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TRUTH SETS US FREE: Truth does not need to be defended, it speaks for itself. For one to speak the truth before others, he does not need too much preparation. Many Gospel ministers today, have compromised the truth. The courage to witness to the truth faces challenges in our society due to threats of death, rejection and isolation. The example of Daniel in today’s reading, tells us what God desires. Daniel rejects the King’s offer and stands for the truth. He is such a person to emulate as his courage is outstanding. Encouraging us to stand for truth, Jesus warns his followers against rejection, threat of death and all kinds of persecutions which await His believers. Christians are bound to suffer for the sake of the name of Jesus, and just like Daniel, we ought to rely on God’s help in our faith and perseverance.

PRAYER: Lord, give me courage to persevere in my call to be a Christian. Never allow me separate myself from you.

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LET THE REAL YOU STAND UP: It was on Daniel to speak the unpleasant truth. And he spoke it with fortitude. With God’s illumination, David worked as an instrument of God. A Christian has to witness to God. It calls for immense fortitude to bear witness to the Lord in most troubling times. Peter Sellers, a famous film star said: “There used to be a me, but I had it surgically removed”. He meant to say in order to advance in his career; he could not carry on with too strong a sense of the ‘non actor’. We build self-images and gradually become so attached to this images that any departure from this shocks others and ourselves. We have witnessed sometimes an unusually mild person exploding into action, swollen with self-belief and enthusiasm ready to take on challenges. Confronted with a tumultuous situation, a Christian does not busy himself in self-defense. He rather sticks strong, trust deeply in the words: “For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to withstand or contradict” (Lk 21:15). Time to check your “Faith quotient.”

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BY YOUR PERSEVERANCE YOU WILL SECURE YOUR LIVES: As we approach the end of the liturgical year, the Liturgy of the Word takes on a special tone: sounding very negative, having the themes of persecution, end, and the unknown. Some of these texts like the gospel of today might also be inspired by the persecution that the early Christian community was going through. However, the message of the Word of God basically addressed to the persecuted Christian community makes sense also for us. Today, there is an invitation for us to persevere in our firm faith. We may not face physical persecution, we may not face the threat of impending death, but perseverance in our firm resolve to live faithful to the covenant of God, could still be a challenge. To this situation, the Word of God holds a promise: “By your perseverance you will secure your lives.”