Have you ever been in a group of people when someone makes an off-color joke about the Catholic faith or its truths? Everyone is laughing, but your heart pounds. What do I say? Am I willing to commit social suicide here? In the end, you fake a chuckle and hope the topic changes soon. Or maybe you've experienced more serious conundrums. Maybe a coworker has told you his plans to cheat a client, or a friend shares that she is considering an abortion. In these difficult moments, it can be hard to know how to respond and stressful to think about the outcome.
In the Gospel, Jesus tells us in no uncertain terms that if you testify to the truth, you will be persecuted - socially, emotionally, physically, or otherwise. But Jesus tells us that we need not even prepare our defense. All we have to do is open our mouths and God will speak for us. The wisdom he transmits through us will be perfect, and in the end, “not a hair on your head will be destroyed”. Of course, he does not necessarily mean that others will acknowledge the irrefutable wisdom or that our earthly lives will be preserved. But rather, he assures us that in the bigger picture, truth and goodness prevail. You will have eternal life and your extreme witness will only lead to more conversions.
The clearest way to be convinced of Jesus’ words is to look at history. The first reading takes place after King Nebuchadnezzar has seized Judah. Far worse than making some distasteful joke, his son King Belshazzar, drunk at a party, decides to pull out the gold and silver chalices stolen from the Temple in Jerusalem. As he amuses himself, he blasphemes the faith, praising false gods. At that moment in time, things look very grim for God’s chosen people. They’ve lost everything. But God reminds him of who is in charge, and inscribes the kingdom's ill fate on the wall. After many failed attempts to bring in someone to interpret the writing, he turns to Daniel, the Jew taken as a servant. Daniel reads the message just as God has written it and so conveys the King’s ultimate demise.
Later on the in the book of Daniel, his outspoken faithfulness to God gets him in a lot of trouble. He is thrown into a den of lions to die, not once but twice! But both times God saves his life and the miracle convinces the king to bring faith in the God of the Jews to his whole kingdom.
The moral of this story is two-fold: 1) God will give us the words we need to make his truth known and 2) Goodness will ultimately prevail, even if it doesn't feel like it in the moment. So, the next time we find ourselves in one of these sticky situations, we need to remember to take a deep breath, say a quick prayer, and then let God do the talking. He will take care of the rest.
Holy Spirit, give us the words we need to lovingly share the truth with those who need to hear it. Dear Jesus, help us trust in God's ultimate plan for Good to triumph.