HOSEA 14: 1 – 9
Thus says the Lord: Return, O Israel, to the Lord your God, for you have stumbled because of your iniquity. Take with you words and return to the Lord; say to him, “Take away all iniquity; accept that which is good and we will render the fruit of our lips. Assyria shall not save us, we will not ride upon horses; and we will say no more, ‘Our God,’ to the work of our hands. In you the orphan finds mercy.” I will heal their faithlessness; I will love them freely, for my anger has turned from them. I will be as the dew to Israel; he shall blossom as the lily, he shall strike root as the poplar, his shoots shall spread out; his beauty shall be like the olive, and his fragrance like Lebanon. They shall return and dwell beneath my shadow, they shall flourish as a garden; they shall blossom as the vine, their fragrance shall be like the wine of Lebanon. O Ephraim, what have I to do with idols? It is I who answer and look after you. I am like an evergreen cypress, from me comes your fruit. Whoever is wise, let him understand these things; whoever is discerning, let him know them; for the ways of the Lord are right, and the upright walk in them, but transgressors stumble in them.
The Word of the Lord.
Psalm 51: 3 – 4, 8 – 9, 12 – 14, 17 (R.) 17b
R/. My mouth shall proclaim your praise.
Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your merciful love;
according to your great compassion,
blot out my transgressions.
Wash me completely from my iniquity,
and cleanse me from my sin. R/.
Yes, you delight in sincerity of heart;
in secret you teach me wisdom.
Cleanse me with hyssop, and I shall be pure;
wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. R/.
Create a pure heart for me, O God;
renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me away from your presence;
take not your holy spirit from me. R/.
Restore in me the joy of your salvation;
sustain in me a willing spirit.
O Lord, open my lips
And my mouth shall proclaim your praise. R/.
John 16: 13a; 14: 26d
When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. Alleluia.
“It is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father.”
MATTHEW 10: 16 – 23
At that time: Jesus said to his apostles, “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Beware of men; for they will deliver you up to councils, and flog you in their synagogues, and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear testimony before them and the Gentiles. When they deliver you up, do not be anxious about how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. Brother will deliver up brother to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death; and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved. When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next; for truly, I say to you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel, before the Son of man comes.
The Gospel of the Lord
REFLECTION: Prepare for Persecution
July 8, 2022
Jesus said to his Apostles: “Behold, I am sending you like sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and simple as doves. But beware of men, for they will hand you over to courts and scourge you in their synagogues, and you will be led before governors and kings for my sake as a witness before them and the pagans.” (Matthew 10:16-18)
Imagine yourself being a follower of Jesus at the time He was preaching. Imagine that there is much excitement about Him and great hopes that He will be the new King and is the Messiah. There would be much hope and excitement about what is to come.
But then, out of the blue, Jesus gives this sermon. He says that His followers will be persecuted and scourged and that this persecution will continue over and over. This must have made His followers stop and seriously question Jesus and wonder if it was worth following Him.
The persecution of Christians has been alive and well throughout the ages. It has happened in every time and in every culture. It continues to be alive today. So what do we do with that? How do we respond?
Many Christians can fall into the trap of thinking that Christianity is all about simply “getting along.” It’s easy to believe that if we are loving and kind then everyone will also love us. But that’s not what Jesus said.
Jesus made it clear that persecution is going to be a part of the Church and that we should not be surprised when this happens to us. We should not be surprised when those within our culture step on us and act maliciously. When this happens it is easy for us to lose faith and to lose heart. We can get discouraged and feel like turning our faith into a hidden life we live. It’s hard to live our faith openly knowing that the culture and world does not like that and won’t accept it.
The examples are all around us. All we have to do is read the secular news to be made aware of a growing hostility toward the Christian faith. For that reason, we need to heed Jesus’ words today more than ever. We need to be aware of His warning and have hope in His promise that He will be with us and will give us the words to say when we need it. More than anything, this passage calls us to hope and confidence in our loving God.
Reflect, today, on how ready and willing you are to face the hostility of the world. You should not react with similar hostility, rather, you must strive to have courage and strength to endure any and every persecution with the help, strength and wisdom of Christ.
Lord of perfect strength, give me strength, courage and wisdom as I live my faith in a world hostile to You. May I respond with love and mercy in the face of harshness and misunderstanding. Jesus, I trust in You.