Your Perseverance Will Win You Your Lives
Remember Albert Einstein’s words after the Second World War: “As a lover of freedom, when the revolution came in Germany, I looked to the universities to defend it, knowing that they had always boasted of their devotion to the cause of truth; but no, the universities were immediately silenced. Then I looked to the great editors of the newspapers, whose flaming editorials in days gone by had proclaimed their love of freedom; but they, like the universities were silenced in a few short weeks. Only the Church stood squarely across the path of Hitler’s campaign for suppressing truth. I never had any special interest in the Church before, but now I feel a great affection and admiration for it, because the Church alone has had the courage to stand for intellectual truth, and moral freedom. I am forced to confess that what I once despised, now I praise unreservedly.”
Lofty praise from a man who is described as a one of the greatest thinkers the world has ever known. He praises the church for having the courage to stand up for what it held dear...the Gospel of Jesus Christ, a Gospel of Life, at one of the most dangerous moments in the history of humankind. In spite of what the media may tell us, the Catholic Church was responsible for saving countless lives during the Nazi occupations. I think of a number of our great saints who stood up against persecution and certain death in order to proclaim their love for Christ. Maximilian Kolbe stands out as one such Saint. He went to his death in Auschwitz concentration camp with the words of the Hail Mary on his lips. He faced his final moments as he had the whole of his life, with courage and deep faith. He knew that these evil men may kill the body but they can never kill the divine life within him. He, like all our brothers and sisters in the faith who held dear in times of persecution, stand as beacons of hope for us today.
We may not have to die for our faith today in the literal sense. However in the world in which we live today we are faced with a more subtle persecution. There are those who mock and ridicule us for the faith we hold dear, even from within our own families, our friends and our work colleagues. Why do you still go to Mass? How can you believe in all that stuff? We will have opportunities to stand up for what we believe. What St Luke says to those who first read his words for the first time he says to us today- your endurance will win you your lives!
The ideal way to accept Jesus’ ‘end of time’ message is always to be ready to face our death. We must live holy lives of selfless love, mercy, compassion and unconditional forgiveness, remembering the demands of justice in our day-to-day lives. We must also take time to rest and to pray in order to keep our hearts alive to God’s presence with us and within us. Daily examination of our conscience at bedtime, asking God’s pardon and forgiveness, also prepares us to face God at any time to give an account of our lives.
Fr. Eamonn Burke