Dear Friends in Christ,
Persecution, Perseverance, and Parousia
Basic Christian living is marked by three inter-related expectations: persecution, perseverance and Parousia. These three realities are necessary consequences of confession and practice of faith that if they were to be missing from the life of a Christian, a reevaluation of commitment to faith would be required.
Persecution by the world on account of our adherence to Christian moral teachings should be expected because of their counter cultural and radical nature. As Christ was rejected on account of his teachings, so shall his followers be rejected on grounds of espousing ecclesiastical teachings that are contrary to popular practices. Think of contrary Catholic moral stance on some culturally permissive acts of our postmodern world: anti-abortion, anti-same-sex marriage (the archdiocese of Indianapolis was recently sued for defending this Christian moral position in a Catholic school), anti-contraceptives, anti-euthanasia, anti-death penalty, etc. We are criticized for holding these positions, and it should be expected; didn’t Christ tell us in Lk 21 to expect persecution on account of his name. “If they persecute me, they will persecute you” (Jn 15:20).
Perseverance describes our response to waves of persecution we face for standing for revealed and eternal truth. We are not daunted by the uphill task of living out our Christian life in the spirit of love despite the rejection and mockery of the secular world. Faithfulness to Christ and focus on heaven remain sources of hope and courage for us to persist. “By your endurance you will gain your life” (Lk 21:19). The Christian persevere in professing and living “unpopular” Christian teachings because they are mandated by Christ to do so, and it is by conforming to the truth that they are set free for eternal life.
Parousia is derived from a Greek word that means “coming”, that is, Christ’s second coming which will mark the end of the present age. These futuristic event is often conveyed in the eschatological discourses of synoptic Gospels and other New Testament books, through the deployment of prophetic and apocalyptic images. We bear witness to Christ courageously when we endure persecution with Parousia in mind. Christ helps us in our trials, that by persevering in truth to the end, we await an eternal reward in paradise. We live in a time of waiting and watching, expecting the glorious advent of Christ. “That is why Christians pray, above all in the Eucharist, to hasten Christ’s return by saying to him: Marana tha! ’Our Lord, come’” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 671-672).
Can you please find time this week to meditate on the Nicene Creed?
Yours in Crucified Christ,
Fr. Bernard Oniwe, OP