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Gospel Reading of the Day Reflection

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

What is it that Jesus preaches that would turn family, friend and neighbour against his followers? Christians are being taken to civil and religious courts all because of following the name of Jesus, who preached truth, love, freedom, peace and justice. As we approach the end of the Church’s liturgical year, the warnings of Jesus in Luke 21 are as relevant today as they were in the earliest days of Christianity. 

First of all, the truth is often uncomfortable. It might even offend others. The Catholic Church is often targeted as she preaches a truth that is based on sacred scripture and the tradition of the Church, that has been held for almost two millennia. The saying “not a hair on your head will be harmed” is perhaps misleading, when we look at the history of Christianity in Europe, the Middle East and around the world. Our Baptism means that we can overcome harm, even our own death. The cost of being Christian is different for all of us. For some, converting to Christianity might mean family and friends turning them over to religious courts for a death sentence. For others, maintaining membership of the body of Christ will mean losing some friends or facing ridicule from family members. The point of today’s Gospel is to emphasise that although the journey is hard, we have the promise of eternal life with our heavenly Father. 

But the life of a Christian is not meant to be one of isolation, loneliness, and constant fear. It is prayer which aids in overcoming these obstacles. Living life in the Church to its fullest potential is what the Gospel proclaims, and we should not hesitate to ask fellow Christians for help. Christians above all else need God, but we also need an authentic love. When Jesus says not a hair on our head will be harmed, it means an inner principle within us that cannot be destroyed. The Church developed these inner principles, at the First Ecumenical Council of the Church, into the Nicene Creed which we read every Sunday. From this, the truths of the faith are professed. When we say “I believe in one, holy, Catholic and apostolic Church”, this is profound. We profess our faith, and commit to the truth. Truth will no doubt cause us to end up in dangerous situations. The message of Jesus is that everyone will seem to hate us. But we shall not be harmed despite persecution, even death.

Luke Doherty O.P.

Fr Luke Doherty is assistant priest at Holy Cross, Leicester, and Catholic Chaplain to HMP Leicester |  luke.doherty@english.op.org


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