“But before all these things, they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons. You will be brought before kings and rulers for my name’s sake. But it will turn out for you as an occasion for testimony (εἰς μαρτύριον). Therefore settle it in your hearts not to meditate beforehand on what you will answer; for I will give you a mouth and wisdom which all your adversaries will not be able to contradict or resist. You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, relatives and friends; and they will put some of you to death. And you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But not a hair of your head shall be lost. By your patience (ἐν τῇ ὑπομονῇ ὑμῶν) possess/gain your souls.” (Lk 21: 12-19)
Here Christ speaks to me about the painful-yet-liberating process of becoming myself, – the “self,“ that is, which He calls me to be, according to my vocation. It is the “self“ that truly lives, in communion with the Source of Life, rather than just exists, cut off from Him in self-imposed bondage to the merely-human. And surprisingly, the process by which I increasingly stand up straight and “possess my soul“ is not primarily courage, but “patience“ (or “hypo-mone“ in Greek, which literally means “a remaining behind,“ or “sitting back“ and waiting for what God sends next). It is my “old self“ that “sits back“ in this process, and allows itself to be transfigured, by being led like a lamb, before any of the unjust “kings and rulers“ that happen to have “laid their hands“ on me. In the grace of patience, my old self is led, like a lamb by the Lamb, to the transfiguration of acting, speaking, and true Being, in unity with Him.
But let me not confuse patience with inactivity. I cannot be “led,“ to confront the unjust “rulers and kings“ of my life, if I don’t take steps, – otherwise I would be “dragged,“ rather than “led.“ And one of these steps is that I make a decision, or “settle it in my heart,“ not to act or speak or be on my own anymore, but in communion with God. So let me let Him be God in my life today, and hand things over to Him this morning, in some heartfelt prayer. He can and does empower me, to be my true self, even after I’ve fallen away from His path. And this is something that “all the king’s horses and all the king’s men“ can’t do, so I replace fear with faith this morning, and say, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.“ Amen!