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Wednesday – Thirty-fourth Week – OT2
Readings: Rev 15:1-4; Lk 21:12-19.
First Reading (Rev 15:1-4):
I, John, saw in heaven another sign, great and awe-inspiring:
seven angels with the seven last plagues,
for through them God’s fury is accomplished.
Then I saw something like a sea of glass mingled with fire.
On the sea of glass were standing those
who had won the victory over the beast
and its image and the number that signified its name.
They were holding God’s harps,
and they sang the song of Moses, the servant of God,
and the song of the Lamb:
“Great and wonderful are your works,
Lord God almighty.
Just and true are your ways,
O king of the nations.
Who will not fear you, Lord,
or glorify your name?
For you alone are holy.
All the nations will come
and worship before you,
for your righteous acts have been revealed.”
Gospel (Lk 21:12-19):
Jesus said to the crowd:
“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.”
Written by: Fr. Anthony Dinh M. Tien, O.P.
I. THEME: Let perservere in sufferings to witness for God.
Humankind history often proves the truth, “sufferings creates heroes.” For examples, there is Alenxandre de Great of France or Hue Nguyen de Great of Vietnam. These two kings passed through many sufferings to conquer their enemies and left their names for generations to admire. The great man, Nguyen Thai Hoc challenged people to accept sufferings by saying: “If life is always easy and smooth, there shall be no heroes.” Once recognized this truth, a hero must accept suffering to live according to it. There is an exemplar of a Vietnamese hero, Tran Binh Trong who was caught by Chineses and seduced to be one of their high rank officer. He courageously said to them, “I would rather be a south devil than a king of the north.”
The faithful has a hero more than all earthly heroes which is Christ, the son of God, who accepted to be incarnated in a human body, passed through many sufferings and accepted death to redeem people’s sins. Because of that, he gloriously resurrected, trampled the death and governs the heavenly kingdom forever. The faithful are Christ’s disciples, they shall have to endure the same fate as Jesus said to them, “No slave is greater than his master. If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you” (Jn 15:20). Moreover, Jesus promised: “Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you (falsely) because of me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven” (Mt 5:11-12).
Today readings advise the faithful to be persevere in sufferings because only those who persevere to the end shall be saved. In the first reading, the author of Revelation forewarned the plagues which shall happen before and in the last day; but as Christ had triumphantly won, those who put their faith in him shall also gloriously win. In the Gospel, Jesus forewarned that his disciples shall be persecuted; but he is always with them, to help them to be perservered and victorious.
1/ Reading I: Suffering is needed to be victorious.
1.1/ The condition is needed to win over the beast and his companions.
(1) The vision of the seven last plagues: The author reported, “Then I saw in heaven another sign, great and awe-inspiring: seven angels with the seven last plagues, for through them God’s fury is accomplished.” These last plagues are God’s fury for human beings, both the good and the bad shall be affected.
(2) People shall be purified as gold by fire: The author continued, “Then I saw something like a sea of glass mingled with fire. On the sea of glass were standing those who had won the victory over the beast and its image and the number that signified its name.” The sea of glass is the symbol of indefinite distance between heaven and earth, as mentioned in Revelation 4:6. Here, the report added the expression “mingled with fire.” Fire is a symbol of purification as gold is purified by fire to become pure gold; human faith must also be purified by sufferings so that it shall become a firm and unshakable faith in God. Those who won over the beast, his statue, and the number which correponds to his name is 666, are the martyrs (Rev 12:11). They are those who weren’t conquered by the anti-Christ (Rev 13:7, 15). This description is also similar to the description in Revelation 7:9-17.
1.2/ The Lamb and those who won over all worldly powers:
(1) The victorious song: “They were holding God’s harps, and they sang the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb.” The song of Moses is the victorious song after the Israelites safely crossed over the Red Sea and saw the Pharaoh’s best forces were sank in that sea (Cf. Exo 15:1-18, Deut 32:1-43). The song of the Lamb and those belong to him is compared to Moses’ song and all the more because the Lamb’s victory is the summit and the goal of God’s plan of salvation. Those who overcome suffering to follow the Lamb shall enter the Promise Land which is the eternal life.
(2) All shall glorify God and Christ: The song has these words, “Great and wonderful are your works, Lord God almighty. Just and true are your ways, O king of the nations. Who will not fear you, Lord, or glorify your name? For you alone are holy. All the nations will come and worship before you, for your righteous acts have been revealed.” The song glorifies God for all things he has done for human beings in His plan of salvation, especially His power and justice in saving people. The song also glorifies Christ, the Lamb of God, who brought God’s plan of salvation to perfection.
2/ Gospel: “By your endurance you will gain your lives.”
2.1/ Endure sufferings to witness for God: Jesus warned his disciples about suffering which is about to happen to them: “But before all this, they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors for my name’s sake. This will be a time for you to bear testimony.” Jesus clearly declared: suffering is the precious opportunity for his disciples to be witnesses for him; avoiding suffering is loosing an opportunity to be Jesus’ witness.
2.2/ The disciples shouldn’t be worried about how to face persecution: Jesus’ disciples must know that they aren’t fighting alone, but he is fighting with them. Jesus promised: “Settle it therefore in your minds, not to meditate beforehand how to answer; for I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict. You will be delivered up even by parents and brothers and kinsmen and friends, and some of you they will put to death; you will be hated by all for my name’s sake.” When they know they have a much greater power than earthy powers assists, they shouldn’t be afraid but should have confidence to fight back. St. Paul had this kind of experience when he declared: “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” (Gal 2:20).
2.3/ Jesus guaranteed that they will be victorious: There is no worldly power which can overcome God’s power. The worldly power is just temporal since God allowed it; but when He decides to take it back, no one can oppose Him. Jesus guaranteed this to his disciples, though they still have to fight: “But not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your lives.”
III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:
– Sufferings must exist in life to purify human beings, to differentiate between the heroes and the timid; and especially for us to show our faith and love in God.
– When facing sufferings, we don’t fight alone; Jesus promised us that he shall fight with us. Our wisdom and power come from Christ.
– Jesus guarantees that the victory shall be ours because a single hair on our head has been counted. If we understand as such, what else do we wait for and not ready to enter the battlefield to witness for God?