Christ’s beloved community
Today’s Gospel reminds us of the implications of faith in Christ. It comes with risks of persecution, suffering and death because of Jesus’ name. Jesus offers a grim vision for his followers, as they will endure the dangers of discipleship, and yet he also offers hope, affirming that they would be protected despite the difficult circumstances ahead:
They will seize and persecute you, they will hand you over to the synagogues and to prisons, and they will have you led before kings and governors because of my name.
“By your perseverance you will secure your lives” (Lk 21:19).
What can you do to create a more just society?
How well do our actions reflect the Gospel message of love?
What can you do to persevere during difficult times?
While the ominous tone is clear, we have an opportunity to reflect on these implications in a more positive light. Jesus envisions a discipleship that mirrors his own life and ministry. As he suffered persecution, so also would his followers. Even during persecution, however, he lived out a ministry rooted in love, and so also must his followers.
Jesus calls on us to imitate him as a way to be disciples in his name. While that might mean that we encounter conflict at times, it also involves creating and revealing the kingdom on earth. Doing things in Jesus’ name requires an attentiveness to those who are most vulnerable and in need, and it requires an intentional concern for the wellbeing of others.
Throughout the Gospel, Jesus shows concern for those who are oppressed and who have been cast out of society. His miracles and parables frequently show an interest in healing those who are sick, nurturing those who are suffering and granting forgiveness to those who repent. In addition, his teachings invite the community of faith to personal growth and transformation.
On a daily basis, we are inundated with suffering and injustice in the world, and Jesus calls on his disciples to address these issues as an essential element of living out their faith. Hearing the Gospel call to love should propel us to work in ways that address the needs of the world. We should be creative and committed to putting the Gospel into action, which calls for practices such as supporting vulnerable populations and addressing systemic injustices in society.
Jesus’ active engagement in his community and world is our model for helping to create a more just society, what Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. called “the beloved community,” in Jesus’ name. As we reflect on the implications of discipleship, we should draw insights and inspiration from the larger Gospel message of love.