But 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.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations
I have always understood Jesus’ words in today’s gospel as a reference to what will happen at the end of time. Reflecting on them today, however, I think of them as being far more immediate. We are all faced with events and situations in life that make us think it is the end of our world. Disasters and crises like the typhoon in the Philippines, a marriage gone bad, a loved one facing serious disease and possible death; these are examples of hardships that literally change our world and lives.
Times such as these are miserable and painful. We feel abandoned and lost. We wonder which end is up. We even ask ourselves how God could possibly allow such terrible things to happen. We are most vulnerable and our wounds are open for all to see. This is exactly why Jesus speaks to us about these times in our lives.
Jesus assures us of his constant presence. He encourages us to persevere. It is even possible that our deepest experience of God’s love comes to us through these experiences.
In the Principle and Foundation, St. Ignatius advises us not to seek health rather than sickness, wealth rather than poverty or honor rather than dishonor. Rather we ought to only seek that which brings us closer to God. In fact, sickness and poverty and dishonor all have the potential to bring us closer to the loving embrace of God.
—David McNulty is the Provincial Assistant for Advancement, Chicago-Detroit Province Jesuits
One night I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord.
Many scenes from my life flashed across the sky.
In each scene I noticed footprints in the sand.
Sometimes there were two sets of footprints,
other times there was one set of footprints.
This bothered me because I noticed
that during the low periods of my life,
when I was suffering from
anguish, sorrow or defeat,
I could see only one set of footprints.
So I said to the Lord,
“You promised me Lord,
that if I followed you,
you would walk with me always.
But I have noticed that during the most trying periods of my life
there have only been one
set of footprints in the sand.
Why, when I needed you most,
you have not been there for me?”
The Lord replied,
“The times when you have
seen only one set of footprints,
is when I carried you.”