Mar Quriaqos and Mother Yolethe

Qeryana I (Old Testament Reading I): Dan 3:25-45  
Qeryana II (Old Testament Reading II): Acts 6:8-7:10  
Engarta (Epistle Reading): Heb 11:3-10 + 32-12:2  
Evangalion (Gospel): Mt 10:16-33  

Yolethe (Juliet) was a very rich widow of nobility in Ikonium, a province of ancient Roman Empire. She was beheaded during the persecution of Diocletian. To the surprise of all her 3 year old child also courted martyrdom confessing his faith as his mother was severely tortured by his persecutors.


In the book of Daniel (3:25-45) we find Azariah, a young man praising God from the fiery furnace. Even in the midst of suffering he confesses that the Lord God is glorious over the whole world. In the Acts of the Apostles (6:8 ff) we find Stephen full of grace and power defends the word of God with wisdom and spirit even when he was arrested and questioned. In the gospel (Mt 10:16-33) we read from the mission discourse which contains a set of instructions that Jesus gives to his disciples when he sends them out for mission. He wanted to give an extensive instruction about the tasks and the lots of the disciples. Here Jesus predicts the dangers of the missionaries. He does not offer his followers an easy way but offers them hardship, suffering and death. Like Azariah and Stephen the disciples of today are requested to give their minds and hearts to Jesus even in the midst of persecution and death.


Persecution is the reward of the missionaries. Jesus foretells the disciples that they will be persecuted by councils, kings and governors. The flogging in the synagogue is a typically Jewish punishment (cf. Dt 25:1-3; Act 5:40). Handing over and flogging point to the solidarity between Jesus and missionaries since Jesus has to go through similar treatment during his passion. The image of sheep among the wolves could be a metaphor for danger. But the missionaries have to be like dove and serpent. Dove is a symbol for wisdom and serpent for craftiness. The two symbols remind the missionaries how to deal with dangers. They have to be meek and prudent.


Both Jesus and the Twelve are sent to Jews and both will undergo rejection. The Jewish mission will not come to an end but remains as a permanent task, and that the scope should be expanded to all the cities where Jews live. They have to continue the Jewish mission even in the face of rejection. Instruction to flee from persecution has to be understood in the context of mission work. It is not a flight simply for the sake of avoiding persecution because the preceding verse exhorts to endure it. The notion accords well with 9:37 which expresses the notion of too few missionaries. Therefore missionaries should not let themselves be locked up with persecution as they can and pursue their ultimate task, i.e., mission to the Jews because there is not much time left before the parousia of the son of man. So they have to be prudent and at times escape persecution.


Even if there are dangers to the missionaries they need not fear because there is nothing covered up and everything will be revealed. It implies that the message of the missionaries will not remain hidden, no matter what happens to them. Besides, the persecutors can kill only the body but cannot touch the soul. God only has power over both body and soul. It is reported that a missionary lady was telling the story of her work in China. When she finished, a little girl came forward and gave her twelve pennies. “Please”, she said, “I have been saving these pennies and now I want them to be missionaries in China. How happy the missionary was to receive the offering from its whole hearted giver. Months went by and finally a letter came for the little girl which read, “With your twelve pennies I bought twelve gospels of John. I gave one to each of my class of Chinese girls. They read the wonderful story in their own little books and today all twelve gave their hearts to Christ. What a splendid investment you made” (R. B. Zuck).

Missionaries are people who spent their time, energy and money for the flock. By all these they gain joy in this world and in the world to come. If you take care of the things that are dear to God, he will take care of the things that are dear to you (Howard Taylor).



Fr. Sebastian Mullooparambil, CMI

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