The WORD in Other Words by Fr Rodrigo Salac SVD (Philippines) for Monday 5th Week of Lent
An eyewitness to a committed crime exposes him/herself to persecution. The common method used by criminals, be they individuals or a syndicate, to persecute is a death threat. So many consummated crimes are dismissed in court because eyewitnesses are eliminated. We have today the legal system of Witness Protection Program to protect witnesses from being killed by their enemies.
In the life of the early church, the believers were witnesses to Jesus. Their faith in Jesus was against the faith of the Romans to the gods of Rome hence they were enemies of the Roman Emperor. Consequently, they were methodically eliminated. Paul and Peter were the prized victims of the Roman persecution. Jesus, in our Gospel today reminded his disciples about the impending persecution. Even if they had the Holy Spirit, they would not be spared from the wrath of the emperor. Even if they would hold on to Jesus to the end, they would still be chased and, if apprehended, killed.
Witnesses to Jesus, who chose to die than to fight to save their life, proved to be more powerful in death. In the end, after so much blood had been spilled, the Roman emperor conceded defeat and proclaimed that as the Christians believed so would the Roman Empire.
Jesus and His witnesses were powerful when they were alive. Miracles were their way to help. But they could not save themselves from death. However, they were more powerful after their death. Their human strength might have left them, but what remained in them was pure divine strength – the ultimate power.
All baptized and confirmed Christians are witnesses to Jesus. Our lot is persecution so we must be prepared to pay the price of a witness – death.
– Fr. Rodrigo Salac, SVD (Davao City)