Today’s Gospel: John 16, 29-33
I do not test well, not for lack of study (mostly), but a lack of self-confidence. With a textbook close-at-hand, my self-assurance in knowing the material would ride high. I would ace self-tests (peeking infrequently – honest); feeling well prepared for the real thing. I was ready!
But the moment the professor would say, “Close your books!” I’d fall apart. I’d break out in a sweat. My stomach would ache. My heart would race. My knees would wobble. My mind would scream, “Run away! Run away!” I was a mess!
How I managed to graduate (with honors, no less!) I have to look beyond myself.
When I read about our brothers and sisters in the world persecuted and martyred for being Christian, I marvel at what courage they must have in standing up for their faith in Jesus in the presence of such evil. I also wonder too, if I would have such courage or would I undergo a repeat of my testing experience. This is why I pray, “Lord, let me not be subject to the test.”
Then, I consider that maybe our persecuted brothers and sisters have more than personal courage. They have the Lord. They have an abiding faith in the Risen Christ.
In their darkest hour He does not abandon them, but lives within them, taking their suffering upon Himself: sustaining them, supporting them, comforting them; providing them all they need to face such cruel testing. “. . . Behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”
They have found something greater, something beyond themselves. Theirs is a strength found only in belief in the resurrection and promise of salvation found in our Lord, Jesus Christ, “. . . take courage, I have conquered the world.”
We do not have to face the sword or the gun to be challenged in our faith. Every day we are filled with temptations of the evil-one calling us to abandon the Lord. Do we ask forgiveness in weakness while praying for those grace-filled moments of strength found in the Lord?
In you, Lord Jesus, I find strength and courage to meet the challenges of each day. Let me always be mindful of your loving presence within me, so that I may remain always within you. Amen.
Copyright 2016 Deacon Don Ronning, OP
Deacon Don serves in Mother of Mercy, the Catholic Parish of Asbury Park, New Jersey in the Diocese of Trenton. He is a clerical member of the Sacred Heart Community of the Secular Order of Preachers in Rahway, NJ. Deacon Don writes at The Deacon’s Desk.