Are You John or Judas?
Are You John or Judas?
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… 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." (Luke 21:12-19)
Jesus warns the people about the coming persecution. Persecution is not an extraneous term in the history of the Church. Just look at the world today and observe what happens in our own nation, persecution takes form in various ways. Political regime, like Communist, views religion as a “huge threat” that need to be eradicated by all mean. Religious groups are subject to public criticism, forced renunciation of faith, detention, in interrogation, torture, and imprisonment. Churches are being destroyed in some countries still. The purpose of these attacks is aimed at ethnic cleansing, land grabbing and forceful ejection of the Christian natives from their ancestral land and heritage. What about Western world and our own nation, the USA where Christian faith is part of our make up? We must not turn a blind eye to those around us who suffer from the loss of employment, lawsuits, large fines, and ultimately jail because of their religious beliefs. We have become too uncritical of the secular culture where religion is seen as something that must go. We can sing hymns etc. and pray within the four walls of our churches, but faith must be off limit from the public square. Nativity sets must go. Bibles must go. Out with Christmas trees. Even the colors red and green during the “Holiday Season” are forbidden in many public schools. Some areas of our society, we are not allowed to mention Jesus’ name or publicly thanking Him. Unfortunately, the secular culture is slowly controlling us. Jesus words of warning remind us that we need to persevere and be faithful. Learn from our Christian brothers and sister who are suffering from religious persecution in China. In one of the interviews Mr. Xu said, “previous jail terms have not dampened his faith, and neither will the new rules. “We can survive in any situation,” he said. “After each crackdown, people follow Jesus even more fervently…. Real Christians should follow the path of the cross.” “Throughout the past 2,000 years, even though many empires have fallen, the only thing that hasn’t perished is the church,” he said. “How can [the eradication of churches] be possible? The authorities are not God.” Let us also learn from Cardinal Nguyen Van Thuan a political prisoner of the Vietnamese Communist regime for thirteen years, nine of which he spent in solitary confinement. He underwent the most brutal torture and dehumanization, but Van Thuan always strove to love the very prison guards who abused him. Some of the guards were so moved by his example they later converted to Christianity. Van Thuan would later write, “…only Christian love can change hearts, not weapons and not threats…it is love that prepares the way for the announcement of the gospel. Omnia Vincit Amor “Love conquerors everything.” He said in his book, The Road of Hope: A Gospel from Prison, par. 59, that “In our soul there are two persons: John and Judas. Whenever you are striving to persevere, you are following the loyal, faithful John. Whenever you cowardly give up the struggle, you are choosing Judas as your patron and you are burning incense to worship that patron of traitors.” Francis Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan is on the road to beatification and canonization. Let us be John then!
Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 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. (Matthew 5:10-12)
May Francis Xavier Van Thuan intercede for us all. Hail Mary full of grace…
Peace in Christ,
Father Vincent-Vuong Nguyen
Fr. Vincent Nguyen
on Wednesday, November 28, 2018 at 7:24AM