Thursday of the Twenty-EighthWeek in Ordinary Time

The strategies of persecution

Woe to you! You build the memorials of the prophets  … Consequently, you bear witness and give consent to the deeds of your ancestors, for they killed them and you do the building. Therefore, the wisdom of God said, ‘I will send to them prophets and apostles; some of them they will kill and persecute’ in order that this generation might be charged with the blood of all the prophets shed since the foundation of the world, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah who died between the altar and the temple building. Yes, I tell you, this generation will be charged with their blood! Woe to you, scholars of the law! You have taken away the key of knowledge. You yourselves did not enter and you stopped those trying to enter.” … Lk 11,47-52

The strategies to oppose the evangelism have always been those denounced by Jesus in the passage of today: shut up and kill the prophets and the apostles, rejection of the gospel and corrosive criticisms by men of the culture and of the government, those who today are called opinion leaders. This is what Jesus, in the today’s reading, ascribes to the scribes and the pharisees: “Woe to you, scholars of the law! You have taken away the key of the knowledge. You yourselves did not enter and you stopped those trying to enter”. It was the practice in the communist countries during the last century and it is the same in these days in India, where, to prevent the free spreading of the doctrine of the gospel in that country divided into castes, they are persecuting and killing christian priests and  missionaries. It is also the current strategy of the muslim world, not practiced to repress, but to plan its expansion. The muslims, in fact, begin to occupy the centers of the power and of the government to propagate their religion in a country. This done, they put in place in the opposite direction the behavior of the scribes and pharisees of the today gospel: promote socially, in every way, the ones who become muslims. These are situations which I have had the occasion to personally experience in China and in the Arab countries, where I lived for a long time for the need of my work and even in some communists countries, in the years when they were satellites of the USSR. I travelled in these countries, for apostolic reasons, when I have been called to provide an international service in the Charismatic Renewal. Before the fall of the Berlin wall, I have received, from various communist countries, letters of the priests who, being tired of living an isolated and persecuted christianity, recommended that I should visit them. Some of them have even sent to me not written messages, because the in and out correspondence was opened by local authorities. “You should come here – they were saying – because you are a secular person, the priests cannot enter in our country”. I was in Hungary two times and I have been received by both times in the basements of local houses of Budapest, because it would have been risky to meet in the church. But the Lord drives the history and the Berlin wall fell.

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