The Gospel according to Matthew: 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.
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.
Brother will hand over brother to death, and the father his child; children will rise up against parents and have them put to death.
You will be hated by all because of my name, but whoever endures to the end will be saved.
When they persecute you in one town, flee to another.
Amen, I say to you, you will not finish the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.”
Reflection No political or world leader would dream of starting a campaign with a speech like the above - follow me and you will suffer, says Jesus. The mystery of this paradox teach us something of the way of God. He draws the most precious out of hardship to declare His greatness in us. Wood cannot light the darkness of night if not consumed by the flames of fire, new life cannot come forth without the pains of labour. Or as a good friend of mine would say, “Diamonds are made under pressure.”
The chemical structure of diamond is solid carbon that has been buried and aged for at least one billion years in high temperature, high pressure environments deep underground. Carbon is common, diamond is not. Persecution is easy to speak of but difficult to face for we are weak and love little. May the good Lord give us the grace of a greater love of God and fortitude to face our trials faithfully.