Warning over Persecution

My dear friends, in today’s gospel, Jesus sincerely tells his disciples what awaits them as his followers. He warns them thus: ‘men will seize you and persecute you; they will hand you over to the synagogues and to imprisonment and bring you before kings and governors because of my name’ (Lk 21:12 -13). Again, he says: ‘you will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, relations, and friends; and some of you will be put to death. You will be hated by all men on account of my name… (Lk 12: 18).

The persecution will be on nothing but on account of the faith; on account of the name of Christ and being his follower. The warning of Jesus has been evident and would continue to be. We have witnessed it in the lives of prophets; apostles; martyrs etc. Many were tortured and murdered. Many were thrown to the beasts and wild animals. Others were exiled and imprisoned. A lot of people have been subjected to inhuman torture and degradation; physical, mental, and psychological abuse and dehumanization even in this present age due to their faith.

The Battle Between Good and Evil

The cause of the persecution of this kind is not far-fetched. It is because of the battle between good and evil. The light of Christ in the lives of believers always poses a threat to the people of the underworld and as such they would do all within their power to put off the light even if it entails death. They hate being exposed by the light of Christ and would prefer to live in their dark, evil ways. Therefore, they attack believers to quench the light from bringing their bad life to the limelight.

Persecution of this sort often begins with verbal attack, hatred, abuse, discrimination, gossip, and defamation to pull someone down to their camp of criminality and evil deeds. They also sometimes offer some assurances to get one connected with the people they think that matter in the society for power, position, wealth, influence etc. The offers are meant to lure one and weaken his or her morality so that he or she can renounce the faith and Christ. And when these fails, they would then be after your life.

The most unfortunate of all these trials and tribulation is, as Christ put it, will come from those who are close to you, your family members, and friends. The betrayal, rejection and pressure will mostly come from them. They will ask you if you are the only person who knows Christ. Some can even go to the extent of handing you over to your opponents to deal with you. You can never imagine what will come from them. That is what most priests, religious and some leaders in the society suffer today. This is because they are being wooed and influenced by men of the underworld to either persecute or be persecuted themselves. The pressure will come from here and there for you to accept the ways of the world. And to be honest, Christ made no mistake in making his view on persecution clear to his disciples.

The Divine Assurance

Hearing of persecution, one is frightened over it, but the words of Jesus are full of assurance and consolation. He makes it clear that the time of persecution is the best opportunity to bear witness. He assured all those who are confident in him that he will be with them. He asked them not to prepare for any defence because he will give them an eloquence and wisdom that none of their opponents will be able to resist or contradict.

This assurance is true because a lot of people who have suffered persecution have spoken out boldly, not knowing where their energy was coming from and the wisdom they exhibited. Most of the martyrs have testified to it. Though many have died, they are in peace with the Lord. In fact, their endurance won them their victory as Christ had promised. And this confirms the saying of Jesus that anyone who wants to save his life will lose it, but anyone who loses his life for the sake of Christ will find it. (Mat.16:25). The divine assurance of eternity should be the consolation of those who suffer persecution. Hence, the Scripture says: “Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you’’. (Matt 5:11-12).

Peace be with you.

[Readings: RV 15:1-4; LK 21:12-19]

Fr. Cyriacus Uzochukwu

Rev Fr Cyriacus Uzochukwu is a priest of the Catholic diocese of Orlu, a former editor of The Forum Newspaper of the diocese and currently the associate pastor of Sacred Heart Church Exeter, Devon, UK.

1 Comment

  1. Radhika Sharda on November 23, 2022 at 9:53 am

    This one hits close to home for me. Thank you for this reflection, Father. You are right, “the words of Jesus are full of assurance and consolation.” God bless.

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