In yesterday‘s Gospel Our Lord condemned the Pharisees and scribes for not listening to the Word of God or sharing it with others, and, true to form, they then directed their hostility toward Jesus and sought to discredit him publicly and silence him. Huge crowds were coming to listen to him now, and in today’s Gospel he encourages his disciples to avoid another obstacle to sharing his Word with others: fear and persecution. The religious authorities in this moment are hostile to Our Lord, and, therefore, they’ll be hostile to his disciples. Our Lord is not only preparing them for the present moment, but for the moment when he is not with them, when, as recounted in the Acts of the Apostles, they are locked in a room for fear of the Jews.
Throughout the world today there are still Christians who must whisper his Word, and in many cultures the predominant attitude and mentality would like Christians to stay behind closed doors and not proclaim Our Lord from the rooftops or the public square. Jesus reminds us today that we shouldn’t fear physical or social death, but losing his Word in our hearts and, in so doing, losing our souls. He doesn’t leave us alone in this; he reminds us that Our Heavenly Father watches even the individual hairs on our head. Those disciples locked in that room for the fear of the Jewsr received an outpouring of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost and went out a boldly proclaimed the Gospel at the risk of their lives. The Father sees our struggles and difficulties. If we remain faithful to the Word, we will receive the strength to proclaim it from the rooftops without fear, just as many Christians today suffering persecution and risking their lives are doing.
Let’s pray for persecuted Christians, and let’s pray that public opinion and scrutiny in so-called “civilized”countries do not make us keep our faith quiet and locked behind closed doors.
Readings: Romans 4:1–6; Psalm 32:1b–2, 5, 11; Luke 12:1–7.