"And when the dissension became violent, the tribune, afraid that Paul would be torn in pieces by them, commanded the soldiers to go down and take him by force from among them and bring him into the barracks. The following night the Lord stood by him and said, Take courage, for as you have testified about me at Jerusalem, so you must bear witness also at Rome.” (Acts 23:10-11)_

The journey of serving the Lord is one that will take you to different places, sometimes you experience the joy and sometimes it is painful due to persecution and rejection. However, one thing is certain, those who give up in the process will never be victorious in the end.

The first reading of today presents to us the experience of St. Paul at the tribunal. He witnessed for the Lord in Jerusalem and the Lord made it explicitly clear to him that he will also witness for Him in Rome, but He told him not to be afraid, but to take courage. This means that He should remain steadfast, because through his suffering, he will gain eternal life. There was confusion and division at the tribunal because the Sadducees who did not believe in the resurrection could not agree with the Pharisees who believe in it and this was to Paul's advantage._

At his time of persecution and trial, the Holy Spirit gave St. Paul the gift of fortitude so that He will not be afraid of what the people will do to him, but to focus on winning the battle and gaining eternal life. This should always be our priority when we face persecutions for the sake of Christ. We must use such moments to show the Lord that we belong to Him and He will save us and help us and will not allow our sufferings for His sake to overwhelm us.

Trials, persecutions, sufferings and pain are bound to come to us from time to time as followers of Christ, but we should not let such moments break us, instead we should tap into them and use it to glorify the Lord through our courageous witnessing and that will show the world that our faith in the Lord is unshakable.

We need to stay united as Christians even in our moments of pain and suffering. Jesus knew the power of unity and He prayed for us to be one in the gospel just as the Blessed Trinity is one. Unity will give us the inner strength to continue to push on even when the odds are against us. It will help us not to give up in the face of persecution, but to hold unto God firmly and He will come to our aid.

Your suffering and pain may even come from friends, family or church members, co-workers and so on. Take the word of Jesus to heart and be courageous. Do not let their attitude towards you break you apart, but use the moment to continue to shine out as the light and you will be victorious in the end.

Good morning dearest one. Smile😊 as you do your work and do have a splendid day. May Jesus help you to fight on until you overcome your adversaries. Amen. And may the Almighty God bless you: the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Meditation:* Acts 22:30;23:6-11/Psalm 16:1-2,5-11/John 17:20-26

Do not give up when you pass through persecution, because Jesus will give you the grace to conquer as He conquered.

(Thursday of the Seventh week of Easter. Cycle A)