THEME: VICTORY OVER PERSECUTION
READINGS: Jeremiah 20:10-13 / Romans 5:12-15 / Matthew 10:26-33
12th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Persecution means the cruel or unfair treatment that someone undergoes because of his/her religion, race or political stands. It could also mean deliberately annoying someone all the time and making his/her life unpleasant. The prophet Jeremiah experienced several persecutions. In the midst of all these, however, Jeremiah trusted that the power of the Lord God, who had sent him, would ultimately triumphed (cf. Jer. 20:10-13). This is because, in the struggle between good and evil, good will eventually triumph. This point underlies St. Paul’s explanation about the victory of Christ Jesus over the evils of sin and death (cf. Rom. 5:12-15). Jesus, in turn, assures His disciples that, with God on their side, they will be victorious over any persecutions they may encounter (cf. Matt. 10:26-33).
Our persecutions on account of our faith may take various forms: it could be overt (direct) or covert (indirect). Firstly, examples of overt persecutions include: the killing or torturing of Christians by persons of other religions, the denial of human rights of Christians by laws in certain states, mocking Catholics about some of their beliefs and practices, etc. Secondly, examples of covert persecutions are: unlawfully denying some Christians of their promotions by non-Christians though not explicitly stating their faith as the reason behind such actions; similarly creating a hostile environment for Christians; etc.
As the Lord God gave Jeremiah victory over his persecutions, so Jesus assures us of the almighty power and protection of God: ‘Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows’ (Matt 10:28-31).
Beloved, the ever faithful and Almighty God, who is concerned about even the very hairs of our heads, will ultimately make us victorious over persecutions. Let us, therefore, remain steadfast in faith even if we are persecuted. Amen!
By Very Rev. Fr. John Louis