Daily Reflections

Luke 21:12-19

Did you know that there have been more Christian martyrs in the twentieth century and the early years of the twenty-first century than in all the other centuries put together? Hard to believe but true. Christians, from across the denominations, are suffering for their faith all over the world. We just don’t often hear about it or (if we are honest) give it much thought or attention. Sadly, it is only too human to be diffident or just ignorant of the plight of human beings, even within the family of faith, who suffer in countries on the other side of the world. The Christian Church is mercilessly persecuted in countries such as East Timor, the Moluccas Islands of Indonesia, Sudan, Peru, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Turkmenistan and many other places around the world. To these we must now add Iraq, as the recent horrifying scenes on our television screens have forcibly brought home to us. Jesus warned explicitly that times of persecution would be the lot of many who follow him.

The suffering and persecution Jesus refers to in today’s passage is specific to a time which will immediately precede the end of the world. In other words, since the beginning Christians have been persecuted and since the beginning the blood of these martyrs has been the seed of the Church.

However, the period prior to the end of the world will be a time of terrible persecution for all believers. The Catholic Church echoes this stark warning from the Scriptures: ‘Before Christ’s second coming the Church must pass through a final trial that will shake the faith of many believers’ (Catechism of the Catholic Church 675).

We don’t know times, we don’t know dates, but what we do know is that the Church will pass through this final trial. Will it be in our lifetime? Will it be for a thousand years or two thousand years? We just don’t know when God will wrap up human history like a garment and the end will come. What we do know is that, wherever we are, we are called to be witnesses to Christ. Our vocation is an invitation to share and testify to Christ and the beauty, truth and goodness of the gospel.

‘I pray, my brothers, that we may be found worthy to be cursed, censured, ground down and even executed in the name of Jesus Christ, as long as Christ himself is not killed in us.’ (St Paulinus of Nola)

Revelation 15:1-4  •  Psalm 97(98):1-3, 7-9
Luke 21:12-19

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