33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time - Cycle C
“But not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your souls.” (Luke 21:18-19)
Standing in the temple in Jerusalem, many remark on its beauty as a testament to God, but Jesus warns against holding onto the material, prophesying that “all will be thrown down.” He vividly describes insurrections that will follow, and he tells his disciples that even before “dreadful portents and great signs from heaven” occur, they will be persecuted and betrayed by their own family and friends.
Looking back at history, we can verify how Jesus’s prophecies came to pass. The temple in Jerusalem was indeed destroyed (a mosque stands there now), and war came in the form of the Jewish revolt against the Romans. We also know the fate of Jesus’s disciples, such as Stephen who was handed over to the Jewish elders and later stoned for his testimony.
However, Jesus still gives us reason to hope. He tells his disciples not to be terrified, that by being persecuted they will have an opportunity to testify. During this time, He will give them the “words and a wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to withstand or contradict.”
Often, it is tempting to try to grab hold of both worlds–the earthly one and the Heavenly one. We want to be followers of Jesus, but we also want to find success in the material world. There are times when I have passed up the opportunity to give my own testimony because I am afraid of losing the respect of my friends, family, and co-workers. I know that when I speak the truth about Christ, not everyone will nicely agree, and I have to find a way to be okay with that.
It is not easy to live in uncertainty. We want to know we are secure in our jobs, our homes, and our relationships. Although we may be called to give up the comforts of our worldly lives and die to self, Jesus does give us a greater kind of security. He says, “You will be hated by all because of my name. But not a hair on your head will perish. By your endurance, you will gain your souls.” That is, after all, better than anything the world can offer.