It is appropriate in a penitential season to often hear from the persecuted Jeremiah (20:10-13). Once again today we hear his response to murderous threats by those who are looking for any misstep he might take. He falls back on the Lord with full trust that He will resolve his dilemma justly.
Jeremiah shows us that the best response to persecution is imploring the Lord’s help. Placing our trust fully in Him, we can be assured for a just resolution to our case. Maybe it involves a conversion of heart for our opponents. Maybe it is we ourselves who perceive the case wrongly, and need clarification. Maybe we are in the wrong and need conversion ourselves. Or maybe it is a test of faith and perseverance with which God is challenging us. What we can be assured of is that being faithful has everlasting rewards even if they do not begin here on earth.
Let me add a a quick word about the gospel reading for today (Jn 10:31-42). In this passage, the religious leaders once again threaten to kill Jesus because of perceived blasphemy. Part of Jesus response:
If I do not perform my Father’s works, do not believe me;
but if I perform them, even if you do not believe me,
believe the works, so that you may realize and understand
that the Father is in me and I am in the Father. (vv. 37-38)
Something struck me here that I never picked up on before. The key is the words “believe the works.” What a magnificent lesson in regards to evangelization. There are many folks that will never become believers through words; but these same persons may well be moved to the Faith by actions. We must live what we profess to believe as Christians. During a year in which we focus on mercy, there is no better was to serve God by serving others than putting into practice the seven corporal works of mercy. Let us look for opportunities to perform these in a special way, but also in the normal course of the day as a habit. Then they will know we are Christians by our love (see Jn 13:35 and Tertullian).