Suppose. Suppose you showed up for a job interview. Suppose the person interviewing you said the job paid poorly. Suppose he went on to explain that if you took the job, many would hate you. Suppose he said the job might result in you being beaten, jailed, and murdered. Suppose he put this cherry atop the sundae. The many who would hate you would include your parents, siblings, and friends. How many seconds would it take for you to run like a rabbit in getting out of there?
Who on God's green earth would take that job? Well, here's the answer: Jesus' first disciples. In the Gospel of St. Luke, here's what Jesus told the people who were following him two thousand years ago. People will "seize" you. They will "persecute" you. They will "hate" you. They will "jail" you. They will "kill" some of you. And, the "they" will include even your "parents, brothers, relatives, and friends." Look it up. It's in Luke 21:12-19.
So, what did Jesus tell his disciples to do to prevent all of that from happening? The answer: Jesus told them they could no do anything to prevent what would happen. I don't know about you, but I believe that if Jesus told that to the average 21st century American, Mr. Angerave American would say, "No way, Lord, I want a plan to avoid all that." Well, Jesus would tell Mr. Average American exactly what he told his disciples back then. Jesus would say, "Sorry, I have only one plan. All my disciples must patiently endure what comes their way."
If we want to get to heaven, we must patiently endure those who insult us because we don't believe in abortion. No yelling. No screaming. Patient endurance.
If we want heaven, we must turn the other cheek. We must love and forgive our enemies.
If we want heaven, we must be willing to accept the insults that come from those who think we are fools to put others first and ourselves last and who think we are total idiots for choosing to serve rather than be served.
The bottom line is this: Jesus' disciples are called to patiently endure whatever God throws our way. Jesus' disciples are called to turn life's lemons into divine lemonade.
For 18 years when I lived in Nashville, Fr. Bill was my spiritual director. Father Bill had jaw cancer. After man operations, his face was badly distorted. Fr. Bill would say, "I'm not only the prettiest man around, my face scares even puppies." But Father Bill was always upbeat. One day I asked Father Bill, "Why are you so happy?" Bill answered, "Mike, I believe in Like 21:19. Complaining doesn't make my life a smidgen better. Patiently enduring them, though, gets me to the Pearly Gates. Patiently enduring them, and, at the same time, using them to become a more living person will get me THROUGH the Pearly Gates."
Unlike the first disciples, we may not face being beaten, jailed, or executed, but God puts other crosses into our lives. And, his advice to us is the same as the advice he gave to his first disciples: patiently endure. Why, well, re-read what Father Bill told me. He said it perfectly.