Exodus 1:8-14, 22
Now a new king arose over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. He said to his people, “Look, the Israelite people are more numerous and more powerful than we. Come, let us deal shrewdly with them, or they will increase and, in the event of war, join our enemies and fight against us and escape from the land.” Therefore they set taskmasters over them to oppress them with forced labor. They built supply cities, Pithom and Rameses, for Pharaoh. But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread, so that the Egyptians came to dread the Israelites. The Egyptians became ruthless in imposing tasks on the Israelites, and made their lives bitter with hard service in mortar and brick and in every kind of field labor. They were ruthless in all the tasks that they imposed on them.
Then Pharaoh commanded all his people, “Every boy that is born to the Hebrews you shall throw into the Nile, but you shall let every girl live.”
If it had not been the Lord who was on our side
—let Israel now say—
if it had not been the Lord who was on our side,
when our enemies attacked us,
then they would have swallowed us up alive,
when their anger was kindled against us;
then the flood would have swept us away,
the torrent would have gone over us;
then over us would have gone
the raging waters.
Blessed be the Lord,
who has not given us
as prey to their teeth.
We have escaped like a bird
from the snare of the fowlers;
the snare is broken,
and we have escaped.
Our help is in the name of the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.
Jesus said to his Apostles:
“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.
For I have come to set a man against his father,
and a daughter against her mother,
and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law;
and one’s foes will be members of one’s own household.
Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.
“Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. Whoever welcomes a prophet in the name of a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward; and whoever welcomes a righteous person in the name of a righteous person will receive the reward of the righteous; and whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple—truly I tell you, none of these will lose their reward.”
Now when Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and proclaim his message in their cities.
Perhaps nothing identifies a follower of Christ more than a grateful heart. If someone saves your life, you owe them priority of allegiance over everything else that cannot save you, or that can do you harm. Those who do not recognize Jesus as their savior have no such gratitude. Those who do not have God first in their lives have something else in that place. They do not consider that they are in need of repentance nor can they appreciate the greatest act of love and sacrifice that was ever done for them.
When we talk of our enemies, the things we fight: the world, the flesh and the devil, we have to consider that those who are followers of those things, even if they are our own family members, if they are opposed to God are also opposed to us. We live in different worlds. What time do the worldly set aside for prayer? Will they tithe to support the work of the Kingdom of God? Will carnal people obey the commandments and teach them to their children? And they raise children who can make a hostile society for the children of God.
Jesus’ apostles shared the Gospel at the expense of their lives. Five were crucified, three were stoned, two were speared, one beheaded, one boiled in oil. The men who could suffer so much and not lose heart, had seen Jesus crucified but they also saw him risen. They had courage to undergo such persecution knowing that death was an enemy that had been defeated.
There is a kind of peace that we have as Christians knowing that Jesus conquered sin and death for our salvation. But there is also a kind of tension that remains for us on earth if our brothers are walking in darkness and people have not heard the good news yet. We are called to go and brave our enemies knowing that nothing can really harm us if we live our lives for the Lord.
Enemies of the cross of Christ may set themselves against us, but we have the great consolation that all who follow the Lord become our brothers and sisters in Him. Today, say a prayer for those who persecute the body of Christ on earth. May the death of the martyr open the eyes of the blind and lead to conversions to Christ. Amen