It is not always easy to stay firm and grounded in faith. There are many that will try to break faith through words or actions, but these are not enough to break the love that God has for all of us. I know, personally, when I came to the University of Cincinnati from a Catholic high school, I was surprised by how many people did not believe in God. I guess that I was living in a bubble of my own creation. I have stood my ground against people who have tried to convince me that my faith is not important. Nevertheless, I do actually enjoy a good bit of religious debate because it gives me greater perspective on my faith. Today's Gospel reminds us of the strength and fortitude that we must have to stay faithful.
Jesus starts out by letting the Apostles know about all of the suffering that they will go through, which forecasts what the Apostles will go through during the Acts of the Apostles. It also foretells some of the hardship that the Church would have to go through during its infancy. Even today the Church suffers from harsh criticism and hatred. Jesus explains that the Apostles will be 'handed over' to be dragged before civil and religious courts. He makes it know that this is because they are associated with Him.
Many of the early Christians came into conflict with the Jewish community and were handed over to the synagogues. Synagogues were not only places of prayer and learning Scripture, they also functioned as civil courts. Many people felt threatened by the actions and ideas of Christians. However, Jesus lets His Apostles that they, have nothing to fear, that they will know what to do or say when the time comes. The sad thing is that most of the accusers, as Jesus goes on to explain, were members of the household, such as "parents, brothers, relatives and ‘friends’." Many the things that Jesus is telling the Apostles apply to us as well.
It makes no sense that Jesus, who taught truth, love, freedom, peace, justice and non-violence, becomes the object of lies, hatred, imprisonment and torture, division, injustice and terrible violence. Jesus exclaims that the Apostles will not be harmed, but this is meant to signify the fact that nothing will break their faith. If we are able to make it through all that our enemies can throw at us, we will be able to come out at the end as people who can be proud of our faith.
We must all try to help people see where truth and goodness lies. This can be done by discovering these in our own lives. Finally, we must all have the courage to live up to our values. We must not submit to those who try to break our faith. God will help guide through tough times, but, in the end, it is faith and fortitude that protect us.