“Pray that you have the strength to escape the tribulations that are imminent.”

The liturgical year ends with three of the final five verses of Luke 21 (vv. 34-36) (the next chapter begins on Holy Thursday).  Jesus, speaking to His disciples, tells them to avoid carousing, drunkenness, and anxiety less the day of their trial (which everyone will face) finds them taken by surprise.  As in earlier readings, Jesus urges vigilance and prayer (see above).  There is comfort in knowing that Jesus specifically anticipated the challenges we face in our day.  Religious freedom is being assaulted the world over with varying levels of severity.  In some countries practicing one’s Christian faith is a crime and can be punishable by death.  In others, Christians are outsiders at best.  In the United States, freedom of religion is under assault.  The time is coming, sooner than most persons think, when those who claim to be Christians and are on the fence regarding the how much they embrace their faith will have to definitively decide whether they are with Christ or against him.  We must all pray for ourselves and all professed Christians that we will withstand the tribulations already begun but that will ramp up over time.  Ridicule, false accusations, arrest, imprisonment, death — are we prepared for anything that might come our way?  We are to watch carefully and pray intently for conversion of our nation and all nations around the world.  And that begins with us.  Living an authentically Christian life in the public square without compromise is our calling.  Changing the world begins with healing ourselves so that we can be Christ to others, see Christ in others, and draw others in by being conduits of God’s grace and love.

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