They will have you led before kings and governors
because of my name.
It will lead to your giving testimony.
In the Gospel reading, Jesus describes the signs of persecution that his apostles will face in their evangelical endeavors. We know that when this gospel was written down, the disciples had already come to know abuse quite well. Romans and Jews martyred early Christians such as St. James Intercisus, patron of lost vocations and torture victims, whose feast day is today.
St. James Intercisus served as a decorated soldier during the reign of King Yezdigered I in fifth-century Persia. Fearing the retribution of the King, he apostatized his faith much to the dismay of his mother and wife. In time, St. James found the courage to defend his faith, which led to his public martyrdom. St. James was dismembered slowly, but tradition holds that during his execution, he gladly offered himself as a sacrifice to the true living God (DVRodrigues, 2018).
Knowing that this persecution continues in our present time, I find myself wondering, why would anyone want to give a Christian testimony today? Why would I choose to suffer when I could be silent and prosperous?
The answer, perhaps, is the love of Christ that we know through faith. We can see the goodness that comes from Him. When we plan a dinner for our fellow Christians or take a hike, we know He is with us. We see the inspiration Christ continues to give to us, the poor.
When Christ says, “because of my name,” we know that he has paved the way to heaven for us. If Christ suffered such senseless discrimination having both human and divine nature, do we expect to be treated any better? We know that the disorder in the world and our sinfulness prevents us from receiving the goodness we intend to give out, but that should not stop us from giving.
As the holidays approach, and we prepare delicious meals to be shared with family, think of the passage comparing the Kingdom of Heaven to a woman making bread. Christ tells us the “kingdom of heaven is like yeast” (Luke 13:33).
Let us meditate on your abundance so that we may rise to the occasion if we are required to give testimony in times of persecution. Please help us to discern the Holy Spirit so that whether we are sharing a meal with family, or protesting against the senseless torture of captives, we can know the true beatitude that you have promised us. Help us remember your name and respond with love instead of hatred. Give us the courage to share your love alongside the poorest among us and within ourselves. Let us not suffer needlessly, but rather with the resolve to do your will. Please give us the Courage and Fortitude to bear our burdens.
Never let us forget your ultimate plan is not limited to us here and now but is ultimately a unitive love that is for all eternity.
Source: DVRodriguez, 2018, Saint James Intercisus, St. Vincent Ferrer Foundation of Texas, accessed Nov. 20, 2019.
Image: James Intercisus, II Half of XVI Century, St. Nicholas Bolnichki Church. [Public Domain]