The WORD in Other Words by Fr Cirilo Ortega SVD (Philippines) for Tuesday Week 34 in Ordinary Time
Many Christians today are afraid of the last judgment. No one knows when it will come so Christians should “always be ready.” If we live out radically the law of love that Jesus has given us, the judgment day would be a celebration of our victory over sin and death.
“Do not worry, — Jesus says, “about what you will testify.” Simply trust him. Keep an eye for God‘s actions in the world and in people‘s lives, and wait for Jesus to give the words. “Make up your minds not to prepare your defense in advance, ” Jesus says, “for I will give you words and wisdom…”
The hope to which Jesus testifies in this passage, therefore, is not a denial of the struggles, the pain and agony of human life, or the catastrophic forces of nature. These are real, and they are interpreted by the prophets as the context of God‘s saving work. Jesus says, “This will be an opportunity to testify” and “By your endurance you will gain your souls!”
The “opportunity to testify‘ doesn‘t require Jesus‘ followers to know everything about “why bad things happen to good people.” The “endurance” that “will gain your souls” is neither mere heroic persistence. Saving endurance is itself a gift of the presence of the Holy Spirit.
David Livingstone, the legendary missionary to Africa, prayed, “Lord, send me anywhere, only go with me. Lay any burden on me, only sustain me.” He testified to being sustained by the Lord‘s promise, “Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the world.” This is the promise of Jesus in the midst of his prophetic warnings of what will yet come.