Luke’s Gospel presents what seems like some fairly bleak prophecy. Jesus says to his disciples, “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. … 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….” (NAB, 21:12, 16-17)
Wow! I can’t imagine this being the first lesson we teach new Christians, yet it is so important for us to realize that the teachings of Jesus are so radical, counter to the culture, that followers will be persecuted. Jesus assures his disciples, however, that they need not prepare what to say, that he will give them the wisdom to respond to the hatred in the world. He adds, “By your perseverance you will secure your lives.” (21:19)
Perseverance is one of the forgotten virtues. It receives little attention in the pulpit, but is actually quite important in the spiritual life. Jesus is reminding us today that his teachings are radical, and to be Christian is to challenge the culture and the status quo whenever and wherever we see the love of Christ being violated. Much of what society does is dictated by good, but sin also has its hand in shaping our cultural norms and accepted behaviors. We, as Christians, are called to bring the Good News to all because of the inherent dignity of all. We are each created in the image and likeness of God, regardless of our social norms, family upbringing, political positions, or religious beliefs. Christ loves us all, and it takes true perseverance to proclaim that love to a world that seems to be constantly fighting against it.
Lord Jesus, you persevered to the end, where God’s glory was revealed through your Passion. Give me the gift of perseverance. When I feel like giving in or giving up, strengthen me with your grace to push forward in your love, so that you may be glorified by all. Amen.