Commentary on the Gospel of

Fr. Johnson Joseph Thurackal CMF

Jesus foretold hard times for his disciples - times of hatred, persecution and martyrdom. The prophecy of Jesus has come true in the history and even more in our time today. Speaking about Syrian martyrs of our times, Pope Francis said: “Today we have more martyrs than in the early centuries.” Martyrs possess irresistible wisdom of the Spirit to defend their faith. They experience unfailing providence of God in all their trials. They find God’s promises are trustworthy and they have the patience and endurance to walk the faith amidst all trials till the end. St. Cyprian says: "When persecution comes, God's soldiers are put to the test, and heaven is open to the martyrs.” Many Christians who suffer heroically today inspire us to stand firm and be witnesses of the Gospel.

Persecutions always helped the church to remain faithful and to regain vitality. Paul wrote regarding his suffering from the prison that he suffered gladly because it enabled him to Christ better and work more for the Church (Phil 3:10; Col 1:24). The early church flourished ‘in the soil soaked by the blood of the martyrs.’ Therefore, persecution is not something fatal, neither can it be a reason for discouragement or for despair, but it should be considered as a possibility offered by God, in a way that the church can carry out the mission of witnessing to the Gospel fearlessly in all adversities: “That will be your opportunity to bear witness.”

Persecutions come from outside and from within. Followers of Jesus face the possibility of being hated even among the close circles. Yet the assurance of his word is our comfort. We will never be let down or abandoned, because Holy Spirit will stay with us to give us the needed defence and keep us safe from spiritual ruin and eternal loss.


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