Our God never promises that the life of faith and discipleship will be an easy one; only that it will be blessed. One thing is certain: that life will certainly entail hardship, even suffering. That’s pretty evident in today’s Gospel reading. Faithful disciples have to worry about being betrayed by even their closest family members.
None of this is a surprise to anyone who has tried to live the faith. Perhaps at times the hardest people to evangelize are the members of one’s own family. I’m sure we all can think of people close to us who have abandoned the faith or practice it rarely. Maybe the ones who receive the Church’s teachings least are those we would hope would get it and be partners with us as we journey to the kingdom. It happens all the time – in your family and in mine.
These are trying times. It is hard to give witness to the Truth when the culture around us wants to make its own truth. The evils of abortion and impure relationships are all but normalized now, and those who take a stand against them are considered intolerant at best, and hate-mongers at worst. And it’s painful to see our brothers and sisters fall for the lie hook, line and sinker. It’s hard for parents to see their children go astray, when they’ve done their best to pass on the faith. So how do we stand for the Truth when our loved ones tune it out? What do we do when our loved ones reject what we’ve tried to give them to bring them to eternal life?
Our Gospel tells us that what we do is persevere: we continue to live the Truth and witness to our faith. If those close to us tune out our words, then we have to be all the more attentive to our actions, to our lived witness, so that they can see that we live what we preach and believe. We have to depend on God to give us the right words and help us to do the right things so that we won’t be a stumbling block. And then we have to trust in God to work it all out in his time.
None of this is going to be easy, but Jesus tells us that the one who endures to the end will be saved.