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Spirit and Persecutions

by May 23, 2022Friar Reflection

The readings for today continue the account of the early Church as told in the Acts of the Apostles and continues the Farewell Discourse from the Gospel of John in which Jesus, on Holy Thursday, after the Last Supper, is still working to encourage and prepare his Apostles and disciples for what will come in the mission to the end of the earth. Jesus tells them that their mission will be powered by the Holy Spirit. He also notes that the Holy Spirit will fuel their commitment and perseverance to the mission – despite all the trials, persecutions, tribulations, and challenges they will face.

So, you know much about the religious denomination known as the Mormons? In 1823, Joseph Smith started the movement known as the Latter-Day Saints, or popularly, the Mormons. It was based on the revelation and discovery of what they consider the third and final volume of the Word of God: The Book of Mormon.  It started in upstate New York. Persecutions slowly drove them to the Midwest to Nauvoo, Illinois where they hoped to find peace. They did not. Joseph Smith died in 1844 when rioters broke into the jail where he and his brother were under arrest. Smith was shot dead.

The Mormons moved to Missouri and eventually to Utah and the Salt Lake Valley where they are now the majority religious affiliation in that State. Their trail to Salt Lake was a repeat of the history of persecutions against them. The Mormons were persecuted for a variety of reasons: theology, lifestyle, their potential to yield political power as they grew, and other reasons. And so, they were killed, persecuted by Christian people who saw themselves as doing God’s work by eliminating this heretical sect.

When the LDS missionaries come to your door to share their faith, they will tell you that the testimony of the Spirit is with them and ask you to allow the Spirit to lead you to the conviction of the truth of the Book of Mormon. They are a missionary and evangelical church with their own history seen in terms of being Spirit led and being persecuted for their zeal and faith. They have a history which in their mind resonates with Jesus’ message.

I have told you this so that you may not fall away. They will expel you from the synagogues; in fact, the hour is coming when everyone who kills you will think he is offering worship to God. They will do this because they have not known either the Father or me. I have told you this so that when their hour comes you may remember that I told you.

Just yesterday in the Sunday gospel we heard

“The Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you”

The history of persecutions can be claimed by almost any religion and denomination. Being led by the Spirit can be an assertion, a claim, and hard to verify. When I think about all this, I wonder what it is that is passed on/taught from what Jesus said that reminds you of the centrality of the Christian claim of salvation. I know my answer. What’s yours?

 

 

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