In our Gospel reading for today, as Jesus is speaking to the people about the end times, He also tells His disciples to expect being persecuted because of their faith in Him. And He says, “It will lead to your giving testimony. Remember, you are not to prepare your defense beforehand, for I myself will give you a wisdom in speaking that all your adversaries will be powerless to resist or refute…You will be hated by all because of my name, but not a hair on your head will be destroyed. By your perseverance you will secure your lives.”
Jesus tells His disciples that some of them will be even put to death, so I don’t think Jesus is promising them some kind of physical invincibility. What He does promise them is that no matter what happens to them, that they will not lose the promise of eternal life.
And in that hope of eternal life, they can persevere in following Him. In the U.S. we are not persecuted as the early Christians were. But we face many difficulties and challenges in living out our faith. But even in the midst of all sorts of trials and tribulations, going on in our lives and in the world, we too can persevere in following Him. We can persevere in loving God and loving our neighbor, caring for the “least” of our brothers and sisters, and working for justice. And perhaps doing this is the “wisdom” our “adversaries” are “powerless to resist or refute.”
The world needs our perseverance in living out the faith, hope, and love we have in Jesus Christ.
Fr. Phil Paxton, C.P., is the local superior of the Passionist Community in Birmingham, Alabama.