Daniel 5:1-6, 13-14, 16-17, 23-28
Dn 3: (59b) 62-67
USCCB Podcast of the Readings:
A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Luke.
Jesus said to the crowd:
“They will seize and persecute you,
they will hand you over to the synagogues and to prisons,
and they will have you led before kings and governors
because of my name.
It will lead to your giving testimony.
Remember, you are not to prepare your defense beforehand,
for I myself shall give you a wisdom in speaking
that all your adversaries will be powerless to resist or refute.
You will even be handed over by parents,
brothers, relatives, and friends,
and they will put some of you to death.
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.”
Good News Reflection:
How strong is your faith? Don’t measure it by how readily your prayers get answered. We’re wrong if we assume that “I didn’t get the help I prayed for because I don’t have enough faith. If I had prayed more faithfully, God would have given me what I asked for and everything would have turned out better.” Or, “I can’t hear God, I can’t be sure of what he’s telling me, because my faith is weak, and that’s why my life is not going as smoothly as it should.”
No, our hearing might be weak or our ability to trust what the Lord is saying or doing might not be as strong as it should be, but faith is not measured by how easily our problems are solved. Faith is measured, as Jesus points out in today’s Gospel reading, by our perseverance.
A few years ago, God demonstrated this lesson for me through a lizard. While I was driving to the office, a little lizard climbed to the passenger-side window, clinging for his life. It probably had come from my yard, but now it was going off to a place it had never been before. As we traveled the highway, the wind could easily have blown it loose from its grip and it would have fallen to the road and been squished by traffic. “Hang on, little lizard,” I told it, remembering that God has said the same thing (more or less) to me many times.
Its head and its tail began succumbing to the force of the wind, but the lizard persisted in gripping the glass with its suction-cup toes. “Don’t try to find a way out of this mess!” I told it, knowing that giving up just one toe-hold of suction could spell disaster.
What are you willing to endure for the sake of the kingdom of God? Can you endure a little longer and persevere by relying on the strength of Jesus when you don’t feel strong enough to stick with the journey?
God has given me good news to report to you: The lizard made it safely to our destination, which has now become its new home. God also wants you to know that you, too, will arrive safely wherever he is taking you, if you just hang on.
He is taking you on a mission — his mission. How much persecution are you willing to put up with because of your faith? Are you willing to risk losing your job when you’re asked to do something unethical? How much grief from your family are you willing to tolerate (without retaliating) when they criticize you for going to Mass during a family gathering? How in love with Jesus in the Eucharist are you when tempted to leave the Church because priests or other Church leaders are not the Christ-like servants you want them to be?
If we let hardships, injustices, and persecutions cause us to lose our grips, we’ve given our lives over to the control of the worldly winds that blow. A strong faith is a determination to be holy and to continue the mission of Christ regardless of the reactions of others and the circumstances around us. Determination gives us the stamina and courage to put our faith into action regardless of the obstacles.
A strong faith lasts beyond reason, beyond common sense, beyond comfort, beyond worldly wisdom, beyond the natural instinct to seek vengeance for injustices or to quit. And this is the kind of faith that provides us with peace even while we’re still waiting for our prayers to make a difference.
If your faith isn’t this strong, turn to the Holy Spirit and make him your closest ally and support. Ask for supernatural perseverance. Faith is a gift from the Holy Spirit (see 1 Cor. 12:9). Since the Spirit of God dwells within us, we have all the faith that Jesus has. Now, that’s a mighty strong suction on our determined little toes!
Beloved Jesus: Give me the grace of looking at You when hardships are severe. Hold me with Your love to be faithful to You, to trust You and to learn from those who walked the path of holiness before us. Amen.
© 2017 by Terry A. Modica