Do Not Be Afraid

Faith Formation

From the Pastoral Team

We are getting closer to the end of the liturgical year, and next week we will celebrate the feast of Jesus Christ, King of the Universe. In today’s readings, we hear from apocalyptic literature, that uses unsettling language and imagery as a means to assure the faithful that they should keep their trust in God even when facing the most challenging of circumstances.

(En Español)

Sure enough, while describing the terrible events, Jesus tells his listeners not to be afraid. There is nothing particularly original or specific about Jesus’ “predictions” here. Every age has its own false prophets, wars, natural catastrophes, and so on. We will misread this Gospel passage if we think Jesus is describing a specific set of calamities. The point is that when bad things happen — and they will — we should “not be terrified” or follow anyone proclaiming these are signs of God’s judgment and the end. Instead, we should trust that God remains present in our lives.

Jesus details the persecution that his followers can expect to face: arrests; persecution; trials before government authorities; betrayal by family and friends; hatred on account of Jesus’ name; and even execution. Anyone who follows Jesus can expect the same hostility that Jesus and Israel’s great prophets endured.

He says that persecution is “an opportunity to testify.” Just as God gave Moses and other prophets the capacity to speak to and confront their doubters and opponents, Jesus himself will provide strength and wisdom for such testimony. Ultimately, their experience of persecution will not end in death but in a victory for their souls.

Underscoring all of these statements in verses 12-19 is the importance of trusting in God even in the midst of hardship and persecution. Today’s gospel is challenging. It is challenging because Jesus demands that we give witness, become martyrs if we want to be saved. It is challenging because the Lord demands that we stand up for him, his kingdom, and the Christian way of life, in a materialistic, self-centered world. It is challenging because it demands that we accept grief from those who mock us. It is challenging because it proclaims that only by patient endurance, we can be saved. This is the challenge of Christianity. We pray today for the grace to endure patiently any trials that are essential to our affirmation of Jesus Christ.

Peace and all Good,
Fr. Oscar Mendez, OFM
Mission San Luis Rey Parish

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