First Reading: Acts 16:1-10; Psalm: 100. R. v. 1; Gospel: Jn 15:18-21
PERSECUTION, THE NECESSARY MARK OF EVERY CHRISTIAN
BY FR VALENTINE NNAMDI EGBUONU, MSP
It can be dangerous to be different. When one stands out in opposition to the crowd, such a person becomes a threat. Aristides of Athens was called ‘Aristides the just’ yet he was banished. When one of the citizens was asked why he voted for his banishment, he replied “I am tired of hearing him always called the just.” When we put a hen with different marking among hens that are all alike, the others will peck her to death.
The apostle’s choice to follow Jesus came with a mark that was different from the markings of the world. The apostles therefore should anticipate the aggressive attack of the world even to the point of death because Jesus himself was hated and killed. When we are warned beforehand of the consequences of a choice we are about to make, it offers us the opportunity to be prepared for such impending consequences. Jesus predisposed the minds of his followers to the persecution they would face on account of him; so that when it happens they will not fall away. “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me first” (Jn 15:18).
Our mark as Christians has isolated us from the world. And insofar as we have made this choice, we are at war with the world. Although our good lives would inspire others but some would also be tired of hearing people call us ‘good’. Our actions no matter how good will not always appeal to the world. Good people, they say, do not last. This may not be completely true, but it goes without saying that good people face adversities. Jesus said “If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you” (Jn 15:20). These words should not frighten but fortify us to face the challenges of our Christian faith.
PRAYER FOR THE DAY
Lord Jesus, may we not fall away due to the fear of persecution as we strive to follow you daily. Amen.