“But before all this occurs, they will arrest you and persecute you; they will hand you over to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors because of my name. This will give you an opportunity to testify. So make up your minds not to prepare your defense in advance; for I will give you words and a wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to withstand or contradict.
You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, by relatives and friends; and they will put some of you to death. You will be hated by all cause of my name. But not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your souls.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
What an intense reading! Jesus speaks strongly and directly about betrayal and persecution that can seem far away to those of us leading comfortable lives today. If this situation seems far away to you, imagine how comforting this reading must have been to the early Christians who first read it. The evangelist wrote Jesus’ warning about the coming persecution to people who were very familiar with how this all had come to pass.
Imagine their relief, thinking, “Yes, Jesus told us he would be with us, even in this.” If you have experienced persecution and betrayal in your life because of your faith or your convictions, hear Jesus speaking to you here. If not, imagine Jesus speaking words like these about some of your greatest trials. How does it feel to hear Jesus knowing about the difficult times in your life and promising to be with you?
—Beth Franzosa teaches in the Religious Studies department at Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School.
Jesus, we know that you are close to us in all our difficulties. Give us the faith to see your presence with us. We ask your special protection for all those around the world who are persecuted for their faith. Amen.