They’re coming after you next
And on the very next day, the Church celebrates the feast of the first person to suffer a violent death for the sake of Christ.
It is no coincidence, as the Lord himself says in Luke 12:51.
Do you think that I have come
to establish peace on the earth?
No, I tell you, but rather division.
Christ indeed comes with a peace beyond all understanding, but it is a peace the world cannot give, and the world hates it.
Therefore, as the Lord foretold in today’s Gospel (Matthew 10:17-22), beginning with Stephen and continuing to this day, his followers meet with opposition, persecution, and even violence.
These things have been in the news quite a bit this year. In some parts of the world, nuns, priests, bishops and laypeople have been beaten, imprisoned and even killed for standing up for Christ. Even in “first world” countries that profess “tolerance,” Christian leaders have actually been prosecuted for their fidelity to traditional Christian teaching.
Persecution of Christians is not a thing of the ancient past: it is a present reality and Scripture tells us that it will get worse.
We should not be paranoid, yet you and I should not be surprised if the world comes after us next.
But as our Lord says in today’s Gospel, he will take care of his faithful ones, no matter what we may have to suffer.
When they hand you over,
do not worry about how you are to speak
or what you are to say.
You will be given at that moment what you are to say.
For it will not be you who speak
but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you....
You will be hated by all because of my name,
but whoever endures to the end will be saved.
The world is a scary place, but the Lord is with us, and since this is still the season of Christmas, we can look back again at the Christ Child in the manger, delight in his peace and his love, and draw from him the strength to face anything that may come next.