Luke 21:9-19 When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified; for such things must happen first, but it will not immediately be the end.” Then he said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be powerful earthquakes, famines, and plagues from place to place; and awesome sights and mighty signs will come from the sky. “Before all this happens, however, they will seize and persecute you, they will hand you over to the synagogues and to prisons, and they will have you led before kings and governors because of my name. It will lead to your giving testimony. Remember, you are not to prepare your defense beforehand, for I myself shall give you a wisdom in speaking that all your adversaries will be powerless to resist or refute. You will even be handed over by parents, brothers, relatives, and friends, and they will put some of you to death. You will be hated by all because of my name, but not a hair on your head will be destroyed. By your perseverance you will secure your lives.”
The Mass readings in November are somber in tone—dire even. The fact that the month preceding Advent offers Mass readings that are meant to shake us up, is an annual reminder that followers of Christ should guard against getting too comfortable; the Lord, through the Church, is warning us against complacency. We are not meant for this world and so the world will necessarily hate us. I heard a bishop say once that if you’re fitting in quite well with the world, you’re doing it wrong! Those of us striving to live “in the world, but not of it” would do well to check ourselves often. The pull of the world is subtle; before we know it, we can be pulled under! We must remain vigilant!
However, if we only look at the warnings in the November readings we are missing something crucial. Read again the last half of the above Scripture passage. The Lord is promising to be with us in all our trials in a powerful way. He promises wisdom to confound our persecutors; he promises the greatest reward of all for what we suffer in his name—eternal life with him.
In all our trials, we are meant to trust in God. In fact without trials, we cannot learn how to trust in God. If our faith is never tested, how can it be strengthened? In a previous article, I quoted St. Rose of Lima on the true purpose of suffering. Her message bears repeating:
“When I heard these words, a strong force came upon me and seemed to place me in the middle of a street, so that I might say in a loud voice to people of every age, sex and status: ‘Hear, O people; hear, O nations. I am warning you about the commandment of Christ by using words that came from his own lips: We cannot obtain grace unless we suffer afflictions. We must heap trouble upon trouble to attain a deep participation in the divine nature, the glory of the sons of God and perfect happiness of soul.’”
It follows then that the Christian must practice trusting God in all circumstances. Most of us are not ready yet to go looking for afflictions; our perfection in holiness has not yet reached that degree. But we should be praying for that grace. Until it comes, however, we need to at least practice accepting all that comes as a personal gift from the holy hand of our loving Father. If we practice in small things, then when the larger trials come, trusting in God will come naturally. We will have built up our spiritual muscle.
In one of the other November Mass readings we read about the horrible tortures of the seven Maccabees brothers and their mother who suffered horribly rather than betray the laws of God. The Mass reading is shortened and some of the more disturbing details are left out. However, it is well worth reading the entire seventh chapter of 2 Maccabees, as we can learn from this courageous family what it means to trust in God especially in our trials. Reading between the lines, we can see that the faith these martyrs proclaimed in death was a fulfillment of the faith they lived each day of their lives.
The November readings have many layers, but one of the main themes is trust in God in all circumstances. In one of the other readings, St. Paul tells us: But the Lord is faithful; he will strengthen you and guard you from the evil one. (2 Thessalonians 3:3) All these readings culminate in the Feast of Christ the King, the last Sunday of the liturgical year. Our focus is not meant to rest on the trials, but on the victory of Jesus Christ. Through our faith, this victory is ours as well and we have a right to claim it as children of God in Jesus. So, no matter what trials come, the Christian must be joyful, faithful, charitable, and holy. Let us pray for the grace and strength we need, so that in time of trial we will not be put to shame. Jesus we trust in you.
From my other blog, https://pelianitoblog.wordpress.com
Psalm 111:10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practise it have a good understanding. His praise endures for ever.
“Beloved, you do not know what is about to befall the earth. Cling to nothing but me and my Mother. There is nothing that can harm you if you do this, if you cling to us with unwavering faith. It is true, you may be asked to suffer. The harm you will avoid is spiritual harm. Yet, whatever happens, know that I hold you in the palm of my hand. Whatever befalls you, know that all is within the sphere of Divine Providence. Trust in me always. These trials are sent to test your trust. For it is easy to trust in times of comfort and prosperity. Easy to trust—but in whom? In God or in your wealth? No, it is in the crucible of suffering that one’s faith is tested. How will you fare? Practise now by accepting all things as from my loving hand. Practise in small things so as to build spiritual muscle. Never grumble or complain, but pour yourself out in love and service. Begin with those closest to you. Accept their faults and failings as I accept yours. Be swift to forgive as I am. There is much to come. I have been telling you this for a long time. Do not be afraid, but let faith be your guidepost in all things. I am near.”
O my Jesus, help me to trust in you in all the circumstances of my life. In childlike trust, I cling to you and our Mother. Grant me the grace, O Lord, to triumph in trust always. Jesus I trust in you! Save souls!