Speak Up For God And You Will Be Persecuted
Thursday of Week 28 in Ordinary Time - Cycle I
Rom. 3:21-30 Lk. 11:47-54
Throughout Saint Paul’s letter to the Romans he uses the words law and faith frequently. It is important to understand them as he intended them to be understood. The 'law' refers to the law of Moses which Jews were bound to observe. Paul keeps insisting that it is not by observance of this law that people are made holy, and that is why converts to Christianity did not have to become Jews. It was ‘faith' in Jesus that saved a person but for St. Paul this means much more than an intellectual acceptance of the truth which God has revealed in Christ.
A faith that involved only the intellect was a faith that was as good as dead. Faith for him not only involved the mind but the heart, not only an act of the intellect but a response of the whole person. Being faithful, full of faith, is what St Paul is saying we should strive to have. People of real faith are so full of their belief in God that it becomes a driving force in their lives. It colours all their thinking and determines all their actions. Their faith becomes a response to God. This is the faith that cannot be separated from love.
This kind of faith is a gift from God. It is not something we can merit or achieve by ourselves. It has to be given to us. God gives us this gift simply because He loves us. Why He has not given this gift to everyone we do not know. This gift should make us want to keep thanking and praising Him which is what we should do at Mass, and we should also beg Him to give this gift that we enjoy to others.
A Pharisee in today's Gospel reading has invited Jesus to dinner apparently to learn more about Him and His message. But He leaves after denouncing His host and all those with whom He associated by saying, "The blood of all the prophets, shed from the foundation of the world, would be required of their generation.”
Just as the word of God clashes with the ideas of men, Jesus clashed with the scribes, Pharisees and lawyers whose hearts had grown cold to God. One of Saint Luke's central themes is to present Jesus as the culmination of all the prophets' words and activities. By contrast certain Pharisees (and other experts on the law) personified all the opposition to God's word throughout Israel's history. From the first to the last prophet, from Adam’s son Abel who was murdered because he sought to please God, to Zechariah whose murder is recounted in 2 Chronicles 24:20-22, the Lord’s messengers were always vigorously attacked for speaking His words.
Whenever we seek to draw close to Jesus, we will encounter opposition. People might say we are being too extreme, too literal, too orthodox, or even too unorthodox. Just as others misunderstood Jesus, spoke out against Him, and thwarted His plans and actions, so it may be with us.
We must not be surprised or dismayed when we are spoken against. Our Father knows everything about our lives and cares deeply about every situation we encounter. He is all-powerful and all wise, but He will give us the wisdom and love to respond to opposition both in strength and humility, so that His life in us and His kingdom will grow. God is for us, so who can be against us?
Heavenly Father, help us to draw closer to You and receive Your forgiveness, so that we might obtain the wisdom of Jesus to meet the opposition we face as we serve you today.