But before all these, they shall lay their hands on you, and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues, and into prisons, being brought before kings and rulers for my name's sake. And it shall turn to you for a testimony. Settle it therefore in your hearts, not to meditate before what ye shall answer: For I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist. And ye shall be betrayed both by parents, and brethren, and kinsfolks, and friends; and some of you shall they cause to be put to death. And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake. But there shall not an hair of your head perish. In your patience possess ye your souls.
In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
We celebrate today also the day of St. Catherine of Alexandria. She was also young girl, eighteen years old, when she had to stand before human judges. Betrayed by her pagan parents for believing in Christ, she was abandoned by all her blood relatives, the closest people she had, and she was left to stand alone before the judge from whom she could expect no mercy, surrounded by a crowd from whom she could expect nothing but enmity.
And to her also occurred what we read today in the Gospel passage appointed for her commemoration day; about what will happen when the end of time approaches: There will be wars and rumors of wars, earthquakes, people will rise up against people, nations against nations; hatred will possess thousands of people…
This hatred first of all crashes down upon those who believe in Christ, because we who believe in Christ—like the Mother of God, like the young, fragile and unconquerable Catherine—believe in the one Lord, the one King, and worship God alone, refusing to worship those idols, be they the authorities or others set up around us. We must be ready to be like Catherine and be brought to human judgment to witness, as Christ says; in order to stand before people, and while condemned to imprisonment, to torture, and death, we would triumphantly preach our love for God and our faithfulness to Him, and demonstrate our unfailing love not only for those who love us, but also for those who hate us, who wish us evil, and who do us evil. Then, we will not need to search for words of wisdom; then, we will not need to find convincing arguments—faithfulness, love, truth, and holiness can shine forth in that moment before people through each one of us far more convincingly than any words.
Therefore, when we see that the prophecies of Christ are now being fulfilled, and love truly is going cold, that there really are rumors noised about wars, kingdom is rising against kingdom, nation against nation, betrayal is increasing, and people of faith, people with pure hearts, even the closest relatives of persecutors and man-haters are giving themselves into their hands, we should remember Christ's words: When you hear all this, look up, and lift your heads (Lk. 21:28), because it means that the time is nearing of the final freedom, the final victory of God, the triumph of love, the triumph of Christ…
Therefore let us learn from the Most Holy Virgin and the fragile and unconquerable Catherine, and from the innumerable witnesses of Christ, to live without fear in a terrifying world, to fearlessly await all that can happen, and be afraid of only one thing: that faith fade in our hearts, that love die in our hearts, that we would cease to be faithful to the end. In patience, in firm faith we will save our souls from destruction and decay, and then thousands will be saved around us; in the words of St. Seraphim of Sarov: "Acquire the spirit of peace, and thousands will be saved around you." Amen.