November 23, 2022 – Red Wednesday, 34th Week in Ordinary Time
Click here for the readings (https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/112322.cfm)
A friend who believes in integrity and honesty in his work, who is filled with passion to be at the service of others found himself in an environment of conflicts and contradictions. In his desire to be fair and be always honest, the more he got into trouble in his company. This started when he found anomalies and dishonest transactions within their department. And so he called the attention of the person and warned the workmate of such anomaly. Yet, he was brushed off. He reported it to their superiors, presented the evidence and his workmate was terminated. However, after that, his other workmates in that company turned sour to him. He was even blamed for being harsh and cruel because his workmate lost a job whose family will struggle. And so, this friend got confused and felt guilty for being honest and upholding integrity in his work. What a contradiction!
Indeed, the values he upholds and his commitment to be honest are signs of contradictions to a group, organization, a society or a nation that does not believe in such values and commitment but condones and tolerates dishonesty, corruption and abuse of power. And those who would stand up against such culture, are being persecuted, unwanted and reviled for being a contradiction.
This is what happened as well to the many martyrs in our Church and of those brothers and sisters all around the world who became a contradiction because of their way of life as Christians. This is what we remember today on this Red Wednesday. And so, for a little bit, allow me now to break the Word of God with you so that we may be able to see and discover God’s invitation for us on this Red Wednesday.
Our Gospel from Luke, certainly, sounds a bit disturbing and discouraging for us especially when we only tend to seek and aspire for comfort and security in life. In many ways, we usually choose the easiest, the fastest and relaxing ways. Our parents would hope and do their best to provide the best security and comfort for their children. I would also rather take what is easy for me rather than choosing a difficult one, in taking the less challenging and less self-sacrificing. However, Jesus tells us differently.
Jesus tells us, “if you decide to come and follow me, then, you will experience difficulties, conflicts, contradictions and even persecutions from those who deny me and do not believe in me. Friends and family members will not understand you and even insult you for choosing me. You will be hated by all because of my name.”
Is it not, that what Jesus is saying to us and inviting us to do is foolish? Why would we take the risk of being hated and abhorred by friends and family members and by those who have power? Why should we take that risk of believing in him, only to suffer and be hated?
Indeed, to believe in Jesus is a risk. This was the experience of the first disciples who endured persecutions not just from the Roman soldiers or fellow Jews but even from their own families and close friends. The Apostle John, who wrote the Book of Revelations, suffered oppression. He was exiled and imprisoned in a Greek island called Patmos because of the anti-Christian persecutions under the Roman emperor, Domitian.
Moreover, this reminds too us of the many Christians who suffered from persecutions. Obviously, many of them had become confused and afraid because of the difficulties of being a Christian, of being a believer of Christ.
Remember, to believe in Jesus is a contradiction; to believe in Him was against the prevailing belief and culture of the people. Because we are supposed to take revenge and hate our enemies but Jesus tells us to love and forgive our enemies. Because we are supposed to aspire wealth and power, to be famous and successful but Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor, the sorrowful and the persecuted for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.” Jesus also promised us that “by our perseverance, we will secure our lives.”
This reminds us of what we commemorate today, the Red Wednesday as our way of remembering and recognizing the martyrdom of many Christians until today. Truly, Christians are being discriminated, violated, oppressed, tortured and murdered in many countries of which we are not aware and even here in our own country.
Thus, as we remember all those persecuted because of the Christian faith, this calls us too to become true Christians, no matter what. And let us remember, a real Christian is always a contradiction to what the world wants us to be. Therefore, we might be hated and become unwanted in the midst of culture that condones and tolerates violence, dishonesty, corruption and cheating. Yet, the Lord calls us to persevere in being true and honest Christians even in our daily and common affairs. That is – to be honest in our relationships with others, to be just to the people we work with, to have the integrity in serving others even in the midst of corrupt practices in our institution or community, to be dedicated and self-sacrificing, to be generous and life-giving. Kabay pa.