Jesus says something truly wonderful in today's Gospel: “In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world.”
Yes, we do have trouble in the world. The Greek word for trouble here is thlipsis. It literally means pressure, something that constricts and confines from the inside. We who live in the world know this kind of pressure. We are hemmed in on all sides by those who deny God and His plan and His moral law. They try to force us to let go of the truth and accept their warped views, and when we refuse, they persecute us in one way or another.
But, as Jesus assures us, that's not the end of the story. We should take courage. The Greek verb here is significant. It's tharseō, and it means to be bold, to radiate confidence from the inside out. We know the truth, so we don't let others intimidate us. We stand up courageously for what we believe, even in the face of trouble.
Why? Because we're on the side of the Conqueror. Jesus has conquered the world. The Greek verb is nikaō, to be victorious, to overcome, to subdue. Jesus is infinitely more powerful than anything in the world that might threaten us, so we can derive our confidence from Him as well as the power to express that confidence even in the most difficult situations.
Indeed, we should be at peace. We may have trouble in this world, but we can also have great confidence because Jesus has conquered the world. Amen!
(Information about Greek vocabulary comes from http://www.biblehub.com/.)
Tuesday – A Farewell Speech
Paul knows what's coming, or at least he has a pretty good idea about it. The Holy Spirit has already warned him of hardships and suffering to come, and now He is sending him to Jerusalem to complete the process.
All that's left to do in Ephesus is say farewell, and Paul does so beautifully. He comforts his fellow Christians, telling them that the trials to come do not bother him in the least if they are God's will. He has only one goal. “I consider life of no importance to me,” he assures them, “if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to bear witness to the Gospel of God's grace.”
Then Paul passes on a warning of his own. He has done his very best for them, and now they are responsible for their own faith. They know the truth. Now they must live it, day in, day out.
Paul tells them that they will meet no more in this world, but everyone present would certainly be thinking ahead to a joyful reunion in Heaven when the trials of this world have passed and the faith they live comes to fruition in eternity.
Wednesday – The Visitation
Mary didn't have to go visit Elizabeth. Gabriel never told her to do so. He merely informed her of her kinswoman's pregnancy. Mary took the initiative for herself. She recognized a need, and she hurried to respond to it. She realized that Elizabeth could use her help, and she went out of her way to provide it.
Do we do the same? Do we recognize the needs of those around us and hurry to respond, even when we aren't directly ordered to do so? Do we imitate Mary's generous love and care?