Last Sunday the Pope released his first Apostolic Exhortation: Evangelii Gaudium, i.e. “The Joy of the Gospel”.
Before commenting this exhortation, I need to study it carefully. In the meantime, my audience can start reading it too.
In any case, I would like to comment what Pope Francis said the previous Sunday during the Angelus: “Jesus predicts that his disciples will have to suffer painful trials and persecution for his sake. He reassures them, however, saying: ‘Not a hair of your head will perish’ (Lk 21:18). This reminds us that we are completely in God’s hands! The trials we encounter for our faith and our commitment to the Gospel are occasions to give witness; we must not distance ourselves from the Lord, but instead abandon ourselves even more to him, to the power of his Spirit and his grace.”
I find it scaring and comforting at the same time. Indeed, it is scaring to know beforehand that, inescapably, one has to suffer for believing in Christ. It is comforting, though, that one’s life is in God’s hands and that we will not perish. In this regard, it is funny that Jesus uses the image of the hair. Perhaps he wanted to impress his audience which was fully aware that many of their hairs were (and are) perishing.
The martyrs are the best example of Jesus’ words. Although they died, they didn’t perish. Moreover their blood speeded up the evangelisation of the pagan world.
I don’t know whether one of us will have the opportunity to become a martyr. But I do know that in our lifetime, there will be many instances in which if we give testimony of our beliefs, we will encounter adversity. Someone might laugh about some of the commandments we strive for fulfilling; some other could label our behaviour us as discriminatory; another could blame us for trying to impose our own ideas on our society.
We Christians should not forget that when one suffers for Christ (no matter how much or little), one is fulfilling in his own life Jesus’ prophesy described in the 21st chapter of the Gospel of Luke. And we cannot forget, either, that there is a second prophecy that follows: not a hair of our head will perish (Lk 21:18). This should comfort us during our trials and foster our hope that we are Christ’s flock and that we are called to be with him for good.
This second prophecy will act as a good ‘Fall Fight Fortifying Shampoo’, which will prevent us from falling and perishing.