Fr Paul reads from the Gospel of Luke (21: 12-19) in which Jesus tells the disciples of the persecution they will face because of him. He reassures them that He will give them the right things to say when the time comes.Fr Paul says today’s reading is almost a summary of the Acts of the Apostles. We hear of maltreatment in synagogues, imprisonments (the Apostles at Jerusalem, Paul in Thessalonika), of being hauled before governors and kings (Paul before Festus, Felix, and Herod Agrippa) simply on account of Christ’s name, because to give Christ the name of Lord rather than the emperor was a distinguishing mark of Christians. It was also a passport to persecution as a witness to Christ. Being hated by all is almost a shorthand for Paul’s account of his own journeying ‘in danger from brigands, in danger from my own people and in danger from the gentiles…in danger from people masquerading as brothers’ which he describes in 2 Corinthians 12. In Mark’s version of the Gospel it will be the Holy Spirit speaking in them, speaking in the witnesses to Christ. As we hear today in Luke’s version Jesus, himself, will give them an eloquence and a wisdom that is the gift Jesus will give them in their defence. These dangers and trials which we hear of in Gospel times were not only experienced then; they have continued throughout Christian history, right to this very day, and all the time it is the virtue of perseverance that is vital. In light of today’s Gospel and its message of perseverance, Fr Paul says, we might reflect on the virtue of perseverance in our own lives.
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