You will be hated by all because of my name, but not a hair on your head will be destroyed. By your perseverance you will secure your lives. (Luke 21:17-19)
I can just about guarantee that as soon as you start mentioning Jesus, someone will get annoyed. Need some proof? Take a look at former NFL quarterback Tim Tebow, who makes no secret of his love for Jesus. He has been criticized for mentioning the Lord’s name, but remains true to his beliefs. While people will tolerate our religious beliefs to a point, speaking about Christ will eventually cause a negative response in many situations. I’m sure you’ve heard the recommendation that religion is one of two things (politics being the other) that shouldn’t be discussed in the workplace. Why? Because proclaiming the “Good News” of Jesus Christ causes division. When taken seriously, our Catholic Faith can be very challenging. Many individuals aren’t open to the Church’s moral guidelines, choosing to decide for themselves what they will believe. Even the simple act of verbalizing our own religious beliefs (with no hint of preaching) will cause a backlash, especially if it occurs in the workplace.
Although this negative reaction might not feel good, we can’t say we weren’t warned. On several occasions, Jesus mentioned that His followers (that’s us) would be hated. No surprise there…we all have our enemies and we know that some folks don’t like religion. What sometimes catches us off guard, however, is when the hatred comes from an unlikely source. In one of the most challenging passages in all of Scripture, the Lord warns that His teaching will cause division even within families!
“Do not think that I have come to bring peace upon the earth. I have come to bring not peace but the sword. For I have come to set a man ‘against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and one’s enemies will be those of his household.’ (Matthew 10:34-36)
This passage absolutely drives people crazy. Isn’t Jesus’ entire mission one of peace and love? What’s with this talk of “the sword” and division within families? Although the Lord is using hyperbole to grab the listeners’ attention, He does mean what He says. If we truly live our lives as followers of Christ, we are going to ruffle some feathers. There is no reason to believe that this will not happen within our families. For instance, your husband may want to practice contraception and you may desire to follow the teaching of the Church. Your children may not see anything wrong with illegally downloading music while you object, knowing that it’s a sin. You may be longing to get married and finally meet someone who is divorced and cannot get married in the Church. In each of these cases, we must make a decision. What choice do we make? The Lord makes it very clear in the following verse:
“Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” (Matthew 10:37)
Being hated in the name of Jesus (especially by a family member) is not easy, but the reward is great. Our Lord promises that if we persevere, we will be saved. While we are always called to repay hatred with love, we cannot compromise our moral beliefs in order to please another person. Whether we encounter resistance from a known opponent or from a family member, we are expected to respond in the same manner. By persevering and obeying the Lord’s commands, we will achieve eternal life.
Help us to always remain faithful to You, Lord. Even when we encounter opposition from a loved one, may we always have the strength to persevere and never compromise our moral beliefs.
(Excerpted from Liguori Publication’s A Worrier’s Guide To The Bible, Copyright 2012 by Gary Zimak)