Giving Witness Amidst Persecution

Luke 21: 12-19
Rv 15:1-4/Ps 98:1-3ab,7-9

This will result in your giving testimony.
(Luke 21:13)

Pray for the grace of fortitude
When we are called to testify,
With a heart full of gratitude,
Our Lord God let us glorify.

“Before all this happens, however, they will seize and persecute you. They will hand you over to the synagogues and to prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name. This will result in your giving testimony. Remember, you are not to prepare your defense beforehand, for I myself will give you a wisdom in speaking that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or refute. You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death. All men will hate you because of me. But not a hair of your head will perish. By standing firm you will gain life.” (Luke 21:12-19)

Reflection

We are fortunate that we are not living in the age of Christian persecutions; or in the present time, in places where our faith is put to the test, such as in Saudi Arabia or China, where the practice of one’s religion is strictly banned or regulated. But wherever we are, we are still called to give witness to our Lord Jesus, especially during times of personal turmoil, grief, or financial difficulties. It is in times of extreme distress that true faith emerges. As Jesus reminds us in today’s Gospel, “By standing firm (by perseverance) you will gain life.” (Lk. 21:19)

As we have persevered, we are also called to give witness, or to share our life testimony about God’s miracle in our lives, especially those who are in the renewal. Many regard this as the modern version of the Christian persecution, because the greatest fear of most people is to stand at the podium in front of an audience. It will do them good to heed the words of Jesus in today’s Gospel: “I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or refute.” (Lk.21:15) Yes, as we have heard in many a sharing, it is the Holy Spirit that speaks through us. We have nothing to fear. This was truly our experience last Sunday in the “Catchfire Prayer Rally” where five of us (a couple and three individuals) gave our personal testimonies of conversion in front of about 1,500 people.

God allows that we go through trials and persecutions because He knows that these will fortify us in giving witness to our faith. The word “witness” is translated from the Greek word marturion, from which we get our English word “martyr”. The term means “he who serves as testimony or proof.” Thus, the early Christians were called martyrs not because of their persecution, but because of the testimony of their faith, for which they were willing to give up their lives. God allowed their trials to make them worthy of Himself, “As gold in the furnace, He proved them, and as sacrificial offerings He took them to Himself.” (Wisdom 3:6) It was Tertullian who said it so well: “The blood of martyrs is the seed of the church.” And remember, Jesus Himself said, “Whoever wishes to be my disciple must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24)

Father God, in times when we are put to the test on account of Your Name, grant us the grace of fortitude, to be bold in our ministry. Renew our spirit that we might bring glory and honor to You. We pray for all those Christians who are suffering persecution and death for the sake of the Gospel. Empower them with Your Holy Spirit to persevere in their faith. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.

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