28 November. Wednesday, Week 34

1st Reading: Revelation (15:1-4)

The seven plagues sent by the wrath of God

Then I saw another portent in heaven, great and amazing: seven angels with seven plagues, which are the last, for with them the wrath of God is ended. And I saw what appeared to be a sea of glass mixed with fire, and those who had conquered the beast and its image and the number of its name, standing beside the sea of glass with harps of God in their hands. And they sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb: “Great and amazing are your deeds, Lord God the Almighty! Just and true are your ways, King of the nations! Lord, who will not fear and glorify your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship before you, for your judgments have been revealed.”

Resp. Psalm (Ps 97)

Resp.: Great and wonderful are all your works; Lord, mighty God

Sing a new song to the Lord
for he has worked wonders.
His right hand and his holy arm
have brought salvation. (R./)
The Lord has made known his salvation;
has shown his justice to the nations.
He has remembered his truth and love
for the house of Israel. (R./)
Let the sea and all within it, thunder;
the world, and all its peoples.
Let the rivers clap their hands
and the hills ring out their joy
at the presence of the Lord. (R./)
For the Lord comes,
he comes to rule the earth.
He will rule the world with justice
and the peoples with fairness. (R./)

Gospel: Luke (21:12-19)

Dangers to be faced by disciples, before the Lord’s return

Jesus said to his disciples, “Before all this occurs, they will arrest you and persecute you; they will hand you over to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors because of my name. This will give you an opportunity to testify. So make up your minds not to prepare your defense in advance; for I will give you words and a wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to withstand or contradict. You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, by 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 of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your souls.”


Your endurance will win your lives

The final sentence of today’s gospel, perhaps added later to Jesus’ words by way of commentary, is striking: “By your endurance you will gain your souls.” It is another one of those floating comments that can fit into many situations. The thought occurs earlier in Luke 8:15 in another form, where the seed bore fruit “through endurance.” The Greek for endurance (hypomoné ) is like our modern phrase “hanging in there” and reflects an inner attitude of perseverance, consistency, dependability. In hard times we must continue in our loyalty to God. In the meanwhile Jesus promises “I will give you a wisdom which none of your opponents can take exception to or contradict.” Our words will be prompted by love and fidelity. Such words will have power to persuade and will gradually bear their good fruit.
People of patient endurance can, according to Revelation, join in the triumphant song of Moses after crossing the Red Sea (Exodus, 15). Like the people led by Moses, we too face stretches of wilderness and desert. We can do nothing other than push onward and persevere. “Mighty and wonderful are your works, Lord God Almighty. Righteous and true are your ways, O King of the nations!”
This phrase, “by your endurance you will win” can fit many moments of our lives and help us to carry on towards the promised land. It has a nice ring in the Latin translation of Saint Jerome: in patientia vestra possidebitis animas vestras, “By your patience you will possess your souls.”

Christians under persecution

Shortly before his death Jesus speaks to his disciples about sufferings to come. He says they will be seized and persecuted and imprisoned, just because they bear follow Jesus. This prediction has often been fulfilled throughout the history of the church. Even today, people suffer for their faith in Jesus, in places like Syria, Iraq, Northern Nigeria, North Korea and other parts of the world. While we are not actively persecuted for the faith here at home, it is harder to profess the faith in today’s world than it used to be, since the social support is much less.
Every Christian generation has its own problems and difficulties. But Jesus promises to be with us when we find ourselves facing opposition and hostility and are tempted to discouragement. ‘I myself will give you an eloquence and a wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to resist.’ We are not abandoned. Indeed, with the Lord’s support, any trials and hardships we meet are an opportunity to bear witness to our faith. As the Lord says: ”that will be your opportunity to bear witness.’ He goes on to make a wonderful promise that if we are faithful to him during difficult times, ‘your endurance will win you your lives.’

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